When it comes to preventing cavities, Dr. Emmanuel Puddicombe believes there is no substitute for brushing your teeth and flossing. However, to better ensure the health of your teeth, he does sometimes suggest an extra layer of protection: dental sealants. These plastic coatings do a great job of keeping harmful bacteria out of the crevices of your tooth surfaces, sparing you the hassle of having to have more expensive procedures like fillings and root canals down the road.
What Are Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are plastic resin materials that go atop the surface of the teeth to smooth over the crevices. Although jagged tooth surfaces are natural, they can be nearly impossible to clean entirely with a toothbrush. Sealants are one solution to prevent food particles from getting trapped in these crevices and leading to serious decay or infection.
In most cases, dental sealants are applied to the back teeth (the molars). Because the molars are most responsible for chewing food and have particularly uneven surfaces, that makes them the most vulnerable to collecting food and bacteria.
Many children receive their first dental sealants after their permanent (adult) teeth come in to safeguard the molars. Adolescents are usually good candidates for this procedure since their teeth are more susceptible to decay and the natural enamel that adds an extra layer of protection is not as strong on younger teeth.
Dental Sealant Procedure Details
Applying dental sealants to your teeth is both quick and painless. Dr. Puddicombe starts by cleaning the teeth to remove all existing plaque and food particles. He then dries the intended teeth and applies an acid to them so they more easily bond to the sealant material. Dr. Puddicombe carefully paints a thin coat of liquid-like sealant onto the chewing surface of the teeth. Once the sealants cover the teeth, he uses an ultraviolet light to harden the plastic and keep it in place. Dr. Puddicombe can typically complete this entire procedure in a matter of minutes.
Effectiveness of Sealants
The American Dental Association found that sealants cut the risk for cavities on the molars by approximately 80%. Sealants are most effective in the first couple years after they are installed in your mouth, but they can still offer significant protection for many years to come. Every several years, Dr. Puddicombe may recommend having new sealants reapplied to protect the teeth.
Although sealants do not fight existing cavities, they are a good choice to put on a tooth with initial signs of decay. Thanks to their clear color, Dr. Puddicombe will still be able to monitor the tooth in the future to verify that a cavity does not develop.
Teeth treated with dental sealants should be brushed and flossed as you would with any other teeth. While sealants add an extra layer of protection against decay, neglecting to brush and floss will still leave your teeth at risk for cavities.
Talk to Dr. Puddicombe about Dental Sealants
If you are interested in the benefits of dental sealants, Dr. Puddicombe would be happy to examine your teeth and determine whether you are a good candidate for the treatment. Because sealants are significantly less expensive than fillings, you may consider it a good investment to help prevent cavities. To schedule an appointment at Family Dentistry of Lyons, please call our friendly staff at (315) 946-4656.