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Dental Sealants

Prevent Tooth Decay with Dental Sealants

Preventative care is fundamental for a healthy smile. While routine dental hygiene is certainly key, Jacksonville Dentist, Dr. Lysandro Tapnio offers several other treatments to protect you and your child from tooth decay. Sealants are one of the most important options. Dr. Tapnio will apply these thin, tooth-colored coatings to the tops of molars. Once the material hardens over a tooth, it will prevent food from gathering in the deep grooves. In turn, bacteria and acid will not be able to access the deeper layers of a tooth. Dr. Tapnio typically recommends sealants for children and teens. However, in some cases, he may also provide sealants to adults. To learn more about sealants and their importance for your child’s dental health, contact our office today.

Who Should Get Dental Sealants?

Dr. Tapnio typically places sealants as soon as children’s permanent molars first come in. These teeth usually develop between the ages of 6 and 14. However, although they are primarily a pediatric treatment, sealants can sometimes benefit adults. If older patients have a history of decay, or if they have unusually deep grooves on the surfaces of their molars, Dr. Tapnio may recommend sealants.

How Dental Sealants Can Prevent Cavities

To understand the importance of dental sealants, you should know how cavities develop. An excess of oral bacteria will cause sticky plaque and hard tartar to form on teeth. These stubborn substances will trap bacteria further, keeping them in direct contact with dental enamel. A cavity develops when bacteria feed off of starches in food to form acids. The acids will erode enamel, and the bacteria will penetrate the tooth. At this point, a cavity will form. When food remains on teeth, they are at a much higher risk for decay. Oral bacteria will have a constant food source, and the resulting acid will be in immediate contact with dental enamel.

Molars have very deep grooves on the tops. Typically, toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way to the bottoms of these fissures. As a result, molars could be at a high risk for decay, even if patients brush several times a day. Sealants create a barrier for teeth. They will also fill in the deep grooves, making it easier for a toothbrush to reach the bottoms. Sealants can last 3 to 10 years or more, providing outstanding protection.

What Happens during Dental Sealant Placement?

Getting a dental sealant is quick and involves negligible discomfort. In many cases, Dr. Tapnio will perform the treatment at the end of your child’s biannual appointment. If your hygienist has not already done so, Dr. Tapnio will clean and dry the tooth. Then he will place a barrier around it to protect the nearby gum tissue. He will treat the tooth with a mild acidic solution, which will create microscopic grooves. By roughening the tooth, Dr. Tapnio can help the sealant to adhere to dental enamel more strongly.

After all preparatory steps, Dr. Tapnio will once again rinse and dry the tooth before placing the sealant itself. Typically, he will only coat the top chewing surface. However, if he notices grooves in the sides of the tooth, he may treat these areas, as well. The sealant will usually dry on its own within a few minutes, but, in some cases, Dr. Tapnio may use a curing light to harden the material. Once it dries, the plastic coating will be clear or tooth-colored, so it will blend harmoniously with your child’s smile.

Additional Care to Protect Your Smile

Though sealants are a great way to prevent cavities, they are not enough by themselves. For a truly healthy smile, you should maintain excellent dental hygiene, and you should teach your child about proper dental care. Have your child brush at least twice a day, especially after meals. They should floss and use antibacterial mouthwash once every day. You should also visit Dr. Tapnio at least twice a year for a routine checkup and exam. At these visits, our hygienist will clean your child’s teeth. Dr. Tapnio will also check the status of the sealants, look for signs of decay, and recommend restorative treatment, if needed. Thankfully, with sealants and diligent care, it may be decades before your child requires a dental restoration.

Schedule Preventative Treatment for Yourself or Your Child

If your child has never had a dental sealant placed, take steps to protect his or her smile. Contact our office today to schedule this important preventative treatment.

For a textbook definition on dental sealants, read this article.

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