Brushing and flossing are two very essential habits for keeping your teeth clean and healthy. However, even with proper brushing and flossing every day, there are some areas of your mouth that are more difficult to clean than others. The chewing surfaces of the molars have deep grooves that can easily trap food particles and bacteria. They are also very difficult to effectively clean, even with proper brushing. This can significantly increase your risk for developing decay and cavities. At Anchorage Dental Associates, we can protect these vulnerable surfaces of your teeth with sealants.
What is a Cavity?
A cavity is a small pit that forms on the surface of a tooth. It is the result of tooth decay. Tooth decay occurs when acids from plaque and bacteria, as well as acids from foods and beverages, sit on the surfaces of your teeth for too long. These acids erode the protective enamel layer of the teeth, leading to weak spots. Eventually, these weak spots give way to cavities. Without treatment, cavities only continue to grow larger and deeper, compromising the strength and the health of the tooth, leaving it susceptible to damage or painful infections.
What are Sealants?
The chewing surfaces of your molars are particularly vulnerable to cavities. These surfaces have deep grooves that can easily capture food particles and bacteria and can be difficult to completely clean, even with proper brushing. Without a thorough cleaning, even if you brush twice a day, these areas can develop decay and cavities.
Sealants are a preventative treatment that is designed specifically to protect the chewing surfaces of your molars. They are a synthetic application, made up of plastic. They effectively seal the deep crevices of the molars, preventing anything from getting trapped. At the same time, they also make the molars easier to keep clean.
How are Sealants Placed?
The process for getting sealants is very quick and completely painless. Before they can be placed, any existing cavities first need to be treated. When placing sealants, the molars are first thoroughly cleaned and dried. Acid etch applied to the surfaces of the molars, which helps to create a rough texture. This texture aids in enhancing the bond between the sealant material and your teeth. After the acid is washed off, the teeth are dried again. Finally, the sealant material is applied to the molars and cured using a specialized light.
How Long Do Sealants Last?
Even though sealants are made from plastic, they can last for several years. If they are damaged, they can easily be reapplied. However, it is important to keep in mind that sealants are only effective when used in conjunction with good oral hygiene practices. The sealants only protect where they are applied and are not a substitute for proper brushing and flossing. Cavities can still form on other surfaces of your teeth as well as around the border of your sealants. Together, sealants and proper oral hygiene can help to keep your teeth healthy and cavity-free.
Who Can Get Sealants?
Sealants are commonly associated with children. This is because children tend to be more prone to cavities than adults. However, adults can develop cavities as well. Approximately 91% of adults have experienced at least one cavity in a permanent tooth in their lifetime. If you are prone to cavities, sealants may be the right solution for you.
In conjunction with proper brushing and flossing, as well as routine dental cleanings and exams, sealants can help to protect your teeth from developing decay and cavities. Call Anchorage Dental Associates at (907) 885-3666 today for more information and to find out if sealants are right for you.