Dental sealants are an easy way to help keep teeth healthy. A dental sealant is a plastic material that is put on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. The sealant material flows into the pits and grooves on those surfaces and acts like a barrier, protecting enamel by "sealing out" bacteria and bits of food.
Research has shown that dental sealants are safe and effective. The American Dental Association recommends that dental sealants are an important step you should take to lower your risk of tooth decay and cavities.
Sealants usually last several years before they need to be replaced. Over time, sealants can come off which means they may not protect the teeth as well. Chewing on ice or hard foods can also break down sealants.
It takes only a few minutes for your dentist or hygenist to seal each tooth. These are the steps they may use to put sealants on your teeth:
1. Your tooth is cleaned and the chewing surfaces are prepared to help the sealant
materials stick to your tooth.
2. The sealant is painted onto the chewing surface where it bonds to your
teeth and hardens.
3. A special light may be used to help the sealant harden.
Sealants are smooth and you can't feel them on your teeth. They are usually clear or white and can't be seen when you smile or talk.
Sealants are recommended for children and teenagers, since tooth decay can start soon after teeth come in. But, you never outgrow the chance of tooth decay and cavities, so adults can benefit from sealants, too!
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