Cavities occur most often in the back teeth, known as the premolars and molars. Typically, these have grooves and pits that are difficult to reach with brushing alone.
Premolars and molars contain tiny grooves, commonly referred to as “pits and fissures,” that assist in chewing and grinding food. Unfortunately, these grooves can also collect and trap bacteria and food particles. These grooves are so small that the toothbrush bristle cannot clean them. This makes the back teeth more susceptible to tooth decay, and often the first place a tooth will develop a “cavity”.
Even more concerning is that when a child’s permanent teeth are coming in, they are typically even more susceptible to tooth decay. This is because the enamel that is supposed to protect the tooth needs time to grow stronger. Even so, while the presence of fluoride in toothpastes and drinking water can aid in strengthening of the enamel, it can still be difficult to effectively penetrate those surfaces in the back of the mouth regularly. This is where dental sealants come in.
These white, plastic resin coatings are placed on top of the grooves to essentially smooth out the surface of the tooth. Ultimately, this makes it harder for bacteria and food particles to get trapped inside. At the end of the day, a tooth that is sealed is less susceptible to develop tooth decay and cavities.
The Sealant Process
A sealant resembles a small plastic filling that smooths out the top surface of the tooth. Placing a sealant is not the same as having a cavity filled. Placement of the sealant is virtually painless and does not require any anesthetic because there are no nerves involved, only tooth enamel.
Before placing a sealant, we will first determine if there is any decay present in or around the tooth. If there is, we will make sure to remove it completely and clean the tooth thoroughly before proceeding. Next, we cover the tooth with an abrasive that makes the surface rougher and helps the sealing solution adhere to the tooth more effectively. We rinse the tooth again with water and make sure it is completely dry before applying the sealant. Though the sealant will harden quickly (about one minute), we usually utilize a special light that helps cure the sealant faster. That’s it!
Concerns About BPA?
Before moving on, we would like to address some concerns about BPA (bisphenol-A):
The sealant material we use does NOT contain the chemical known as BPA, which can be found in some dental resins. A study was published in 2012 that attributed trace amounts of the chemical to behavioral problems in children. The authors of the study maintained that while they found a correlation, they could not prove that the BPA in the resins was the actual cause of behavioral problems.
Research published in the ADA Professional Product review shows that food, drinks, sunscreen, shampoo, body wash and other cosmetics actually contain more amounts of BPA than what is used in dental sealants (1). The ADA continues to believe that dental sealants offer tremendous oral health benefit and are safe for continued use in routine preventative services.
We have found a sealant material that is strong and bioactive. It employs new technology that allows it to pick up calcium and other minerals from our diets that are good for teeth. Then, it slowly releases it back into the teeth to keep them strong and healthy.
(1) source: american dental association
Properly Caring for Sealants
Sealants don’t require additional care beyond your normal routine. Your routine should include brushing and flossing your teeth daily, dental checkups, and cleanings with Dr. Brumbach twice per year. During semi-annual visits, we examine the sealants to make sure that they are secure and intact. If maintained properly, sealants last many years while providing you or your child protection from tooth decay.
Call our office today to set up an appointment with Dr. Zach Brumbach and his dental professional team for any dentistry needs.