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Dental sealants, a way to prevent tooth decay
Dental sealants are a way to prevent the occurrence of cavities on recently erupted teeth. They are recommended for healthy, decay-free teeth. It is a simple, easy to perform method, painless, and easily accepted by most children.
During the sealing procedure, a thin layer of composite material is applied in the grooves and pits of the teeth. This way, direct contact between food, bacteria and the tooth enamel is prevented, and cavities cannot develop. Sealing is recommended as soon as possible after the eruption of teeth, because once the cavity appears, the tooth can no longer be sealed. The optimal age is 3-4 years for temporary teeth, 6-8 years for the first permanent molars and 11-12 years for the second permanent molars.
Most often, the sealing is performed on the first permanent molars, which emerge in the mouth at the age of 5-7, behind the milk teeth. These teeth are predisposed to cavities even during eruption, as they are mistaken for milk teeth and neglected, because they are located in the back and less brushed by children.
Tooth sealing phases:
- professional brushing with a toothbrush and toothpaste, for a thorough cleaning of the tooth surface;
- applying a deminieralizing gel for 30 seconds;
- water jet washing under suction (rinsing not allowed);
- air jet drying;
- applying an adhesive with a brush and photopolymerizing it;
- applying the liquid sealant, blocking all grooves and pits of the tooth. It is hardened through photopolymerization, using a light, for 10-20 seconds;
- checking the occlusion.
Sealing checkup is recommended at 6 month intervals. The lifespan of a sealing procedure is several years, depending on the execution accuracy, particularly the isolation of the tooth from saliva, which is harder to achieve in the small and constantly moving mouth of a 6 year old child. Then, there is the diet and eating habits, related to crushing hard foods between the teeth (candy, nuts, etc...), how tight are the dental contacts with the dental antagonists. The sealant is usually colored white, so its presence can be easily identified and evaluated during dental checkups.
In situations where tooth grooves are already turning black and it is difficult to determine whether or not there is already a cavity there, it is recommended to remove the black area and prepare a small cavity which will then be blocked with sealant, a procedure called widened sealing. By applying the demineralizing acid, most of the bacteria is eliminated from fissures, and the sealant acts as a microorganism blocker, which renders tooth decay inactive.
In order to have healthy and strong teeth starting from childhood and throughout your lifetime, you should observe certain tooth decay prophylaxis measures:
- thorough and proper dental hygiene,
- periodic checkups, twice a year,
- having a healthy diet,
- reducing the consumption of sticky sweets,
- eliminating the intake of sweets between meals; they should be consumed only with the main meal, followed by brushing,
- applying high fluoride content gels,
- dental sealing.