If you have ever had a cavity, you know how time-consuming and frustrating it can be to get it corrected. At Birmingham Dental in Birmingham, Michigan, we offer dental sealants. Sealants are one of the best ways to prevent cavities, especially with younger kids. Sealants are a literal seal for the crowns of your teeth that will prevent bacteria and plaque from damaging your teeth. If you are interested in dental sealants, give us a call today! 


What are Dental Sealants? 


A dental sealant is a thin, plastic coating painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth — usually the back teeth (the premolars and molars) — to prevent tooth decay. The sealant quickly bonds into the depressions and grooves of the teeth, forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth.


Although thorough brushing and flossing can remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth, they cannot always get into all the nooks and crannies of the back teeth to remove the food and plaque. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas from tooth decay by “sealing out” plaque and food. Sealants should not be an excuse for practicing good oral hygiene; they are another way to prevent issues. 


Who Should Get Sealants?


Because of the likelihood of developing decay in the depressions and grooves of the premolars and molars, children and teenagers are candidates for sealants. However, adults without decay or fillings in their molars can benefit from sealants.


Typically, children should get sealants on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as these teeth come in. In this way, the bonds can protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years of ages 6 to 14.


In some cases, dental sealants may also be appropriate for baby teeth, such as when a child’s baby teeth have deep depressions and grooves. Because baby teeth play such an essential role in holding the correct spacing for permanent teeth, it’s necessary to keep these teeth healthy so they are not lost too early.


How are Sealants Applied?


Applying sealants is a painless and straightforward process. It takes only a few minutes for your dentist or hygienist to apply the adhesive to seal each tooth. The application steps are as follows:


  • First, the teeth that are getting sealants are thoroughly cleaned. We need to remove all bacteria, food particles, and plaque from the teeth to avoid getting stuck underneath the adhesive and causing problems. 


  • Each tooth is then dried, and cotton or another absorbent material is put around the tooth to keep it dry. Saliva can make it, so the sealants don’t stick as well. Keeping your mouth dry may not be the most comfortable, but it will only last a short time. 


  • An acid solution is put on the chewing surfaces of the teeth to roughen them up, which helps the sealant bond to the teeth. The solution creates a rough surface that the sealant can grip onto. It would be like putting a sticker on a wet surface; it would not stick for long. 


  • The teeth are then rinsed and dried. Your sealants are ready for you to use right away. It may feel like something is between your teeth, but that feeling will quickly pass, and you won’t notice them. 


Sealants are painted onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. Sometimes a special curing light is used to help the glue set. We will go over each step with you in greater detail and fully understand the process during a consultation. 


How Long Do Sealants Last?


Sealants can protect teeth from decay for up to 10 years, but they need to be checked for chipping or wearing at regular dental check-ups. Your dentist can replace sealants as necessary.


Are you a candidate for sealants? Give Birmingham Dental a call, and one of our friendly team members will be happy to speak with you. We are ready to help you get your best smile yet! Call us today to see if sealants are the best decision for you.