Brushing and flossing are great habits to practice to maintain clean and healthy teeth. For an extra level of protection, however, dental sealants are a good option. After all, toothbrushes, floss, and even mouthwashes can leave traces of food debris and plaque behind, especially in the tricky grooves and depressions of the back molars.
Sealants are a thin plastic coating that is usually applied to the chewing (occlusal) surface of the back teeth (the molars and premolars). These teeth are the most commonly treated because they are the most difficult to reach to clean. Dental sealants fill in the grooves of the teeth and cover them, forming a protective barrier between the teeth and harmful plaque and debris.
Dr. Zack usually recommend dental sealants for adolescents who are at a higher risk of cavities than adults. To receive the treatment, the teeth must have fully erupted beyond the gums. Other permanent teeth can also receive sealants, but this is less common.
The teeth receiving sealants will first be cleaned thoroughly. They will be rinsed and dried before having an acidic solution applied to them. This solution etches the tooth surface, creating small microscopic areas. This causes the tooth surface to be slightly rougher and helps the sealants to attach better to the teeth. The solution is then rinsed away, and the teeth are dried. The dental sealants will be applied in liquid form and are hardened using a special light. Once the sealants have hardened and dried, they become a hard-plastic varnish coating. The teeth can then be used as normal again, though you will be advised not to eat, drink, or rinse for about half an hour to allow the sealants to set completely.
It is important to note that teeth that have had dental sealants applied are not immune to decay – they still require regular brushing and flossing. Of course, this also benefits untreated teeth.
Sealants can last for several years with proper care. If they should sustain any damage, you can return to Dr. Zack in Stamford to have them replaced.