Dental sealants are a valuable tool in the fight against tooth decay, but they're typically associated with issues common to children and young adults. What about older patients? Do they work the same way? These are just a couple of questions you should ask when pondering dental sealants for adults.What Is a Dental Sealant?
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), the purpose of a dental sealant is to prevent cavities by acting as a barrier. The sealant is a plastic material that covers a tooth's chewing surface, and is commonly applied to premolars and molars – the two surfaces where decay occurs the most.
No matter how well or often you brush, toothbrush bristles can't penetrate all the grooves and depressions located on your teeth's chewing surfaces. Most unreachable spots are primed for plaque and food particles to collect. The dental sealant prevents decay from developing in these vulnerable areas.Applying the Sealant
Dr. Dan Peterson suggests sealant application is a five-step process:
First, the tooth's surface is cleaned with pumice and then rinsed and dried.
Then, an "etching" material is applied for a brief 10 to 15 seconds. This roughens the tooth surface to help the sealant adhere to your natural tooth.
Once the tooth is etched, the dental hygienist thoroughly rinses the tooth surface with water.
After the water rinse, the tooth surface is dried and the sealant is applied. A curing light helps it to harden it on the tooth surface.
After it is applied, the sealant is examined to ensure that it is not too high and the patient's occlusion is correct.
Despite being recognized as a procedure geared toward children, there are some unique positives to dental sealants. Regardless of age, everyone is susceptible to tooth decay. Sealants can therefore decrease this occurrence in anyone who chooses to receive them. Sealants also prevent food and plaque from gathering in grooves and depressions on tooth surfaces, further reducing one's risk of decay as the sealants leave bacteria no place to grow. Ultimately, dental sealants are a great form of preventive maintenance. Spending a little money upfront ensures neglected areas won't result in costly dental procedures down the road.When to Think Twice
Despite the benefits of sealants, there are some downsides as well. One of them is short-term cost. Although sealants can save you money down the line by proactively protecting your teeth, there's still the upfront expense of the procedure. Sealants also aren't permanent; they'll need to be reapplied every 10 years.Tooth Decay Prevention
Of course, dental sealants for adults aren't the only way to fight tooth decay. Some of the smartest and easiest ways to stay healthy are also the most sensible ones. Brushing and flossing multiple times a day, and using a toothpaste such as Colgate® Enamel Health™ Whitening Toothpaste, will always be your first line of defense. Meanwhile, eating nutritious foods should be an equally prominent part of your oral health plan.