The teeth in your smile have different functions. In the case of your back teeth, or your molars and premolars, their job is to grind your food in order to make it easier to swallow and digest. To do this, they come equipped with ridges, known as cusps that help to break down your food. These cusps do a great job when it comes to chewing your food, but they also create places for food debris and plaque to hide. These places are difficult to reach with a toothbrush, and are terrific spots for cavities to form.
To protect these teeth from cavities, your dentist can apply a thin plastic coating called a dental sealant. These sealants form an extra barrier of protection between your tooth enamel and plaque, bacteria and acids.
Your dentist will clean and dry the tooth and then apply a very mild acid solution to create tiny abrasions on the surface of the tooth, which will allow the sealants to better adhere to the enamel. Afterward, the dentist will apply the sealant, which may be allowed to harden on its own, or cured with a special light.
Sealants are most effective when they are applied as soon as the molars and premolars erupt. For that reason, they are usually applied to children’s teeth starting around the age of six. However, older children and adults whose back teeth are healthy, or who may be at an increased risk for cavities can also benefit from dental sealants.
Dental sealants only protect the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, so you will still need to brush twice a day and floss once a day. You should see your dentist every six months to have your teeth cleaned and examined, and to have the sealants checked.
If your child or even you could benefit from dental sealants, our dentist, Dr. Robert A. Bell at Bullitt Dental P.L.L.C. in Shepherdsville, Kentucky, will be happy to help. To schedule an appointment, call 502-908-9434 today.