If you touch your molars or pre-molars with your tongue right now, you’ll find a deep groove in each and every tooth. The only exception is teeth that have been covered with a sealant, filling or onlay. This is just how teeth are naturally – which is a little unfortunate, because these deep grooves are hard to brush and clean, even if you’ve got immaculate technique.
This is especially true as you get older, because these grooves have tiny microfractures from frequent grinding and crushing motions. Some of these are so tiny they’re smaller than the hair of a toothbrush, which makes it virtually impossible to avoid getting caries (tooth decay) sooner or later.
As time passes, most people end up getting fillings and onlays over some of these grooves due to decay. However, you can choose to get sealants for them instead. Here’s why – and how – you might choose to do that.
Reasons for Getting Dental Sealants
The grooves in your rear teeth tend to get fractures. When they do, they become the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, infections and, of course, caries (tooth decay). This is exacerbated by the fact that there’s enough space in these molar and pre-molar grooves for food particles to get stuck and start rotting.
Getting a dental sealant is equivalent to “vacuum-sealing” these grooves off. There’s no space for bacteria and food particles to get trapped in your rear teeth. This makes it easier to brush – and increases the likelihood of you retaining your molars and pre-molars, which tend to need dental care most often, as you age.
The sealant’s primary and only function is to prevent you getting bacteria, food particles and from getting into the grooves in your teeth. Since only your rear teeth – the molars and pre-molars - have such grooves, it makes no sense to put sealants over your front teeth.
Then again, even if you wanted to protect your front teeth with a sealant, where (and how) would you attach it? It requires a level surface – which means that your canines and incisors couldn’t support it anyway!
In other words, sealants are neither necessary nor appropriate for your front teeth.
How is Sealant Material Applied?
Before the sealant material applied, the tooth surface needs to be cleaned to make sure nothing gets permanently stuck between sealant and enamel. Once that’s done, a liquid mix you can think of as “dental concrete” is applied to the tooth groove before being solidified by the dentist using a special light.
The one case in which you definitely don’t need a sealant is if you have a filling, crown or onlay on a tooth. These materials act as a sealant does, eliminating the need for one.
If you’d like to find out more about sealing your child’s teeth, or your own, call us any time for a free consultation at (480) 830-5100!