Tooth Sealants and Sealing your Teeth against future decay
Tooth Fissure Sealants coat and protect teeth. They are applied to all the little grooves and fissures present in teeth, usually on the biting surface where decay starts first.
Although tooth sealants have been around for decades now, in the UK they are still not used as much as needed yet Dental tooth sealants are non-invasive, do no harm what-so-ever, yet seal off the deep grooves in teeth that ALWAYS decay first - would you rather get a "free" filling in a tooth, or pay for a sealant and prevent that filling ever existing in the grooves where food gets stuck?
Tooth Sealants help to prevent tooth decay and protect teeth against future attack in the grooves and fissures of teeth.
Probably one of the best kept secrets is the preventive action of early fissure tooth sealants by being placed on second teeth as they fully
erupt and appear in the mouth, protecting and sealing the deep grooves in back teeth that nearly always decay first.
Just look at most peoples fillings - are they big metal blobs on the biting surfaces of the upper and lower back teeth?
Now imagine how much better those teeth would look with no fillings at all - that's what tooth sealants and sealing can achieve !
What are Dental Tooth Sealants?
Sealants are any material that are bonded onto the tooth surfaces to protect them from attack by bacteria that cause decay. Most commonly, sealants are clear or tooth coloured materials that are placed in the grooves(fissures) of the biting surfaces of back teeth. Sealants can be different materials, but they all work by turning a deep trapping groove into a shallow, easily cleaned surface by sticking to the tooth on the biting surface. Back teeth have deep grooves and pits that are very difficult to keep clean. Plaque, which is a nearly invisible (transparent but tooth coloured) film of bacteria and food, collects in these grooves, which are almost impossible to clean thoroughly. Chewing just compresses food and sticky sweet things deeper into these cracks, where decay can then weaken the same spot, again and again. If you look where people have fillings, especially the metal ones, they are nearly always on the biting surfaces, because decay started easily in these grooves we call fissures, Other grooves can also be sealed against decay, such as those behind front teeth.
Why "seal" grooves in teeth before they may need big fillings?
Every time you eat, the bacteria in plaque forms acid. Without sealants, these acid attacks can cause the enamel to break down and decay. Because of the "V" shape of fissures, plaque bacteria sit at the bottom of these grooves, constantly weakening the same spot, until it makes a cavity. Over 80% of all cavities start here, in the tooth fissures.Then once you have a cavity, this allows bacteria to invade your tooth, decaying it away. Fillings are then needed to restore the cavity after decay removal.
Wouldn't it be better to seal teeth and avoid the tooth decay, cavities and these fillings in the first place?
Also remember that the usual ways of detecting decay (sharp metal probe and X-rays) are relatively poor at detecting occlusal (biting surface) decay early. This is why we also use our laser probe which detects early decay before it has even become a cavity - thus teeth can be sealed with confidence AND even if the earliest decay has started, we can remove the "spot" of decay and fill that spot AND still seal over all the remaining grooves to prevent future problems.
Well, the good news is that Children and even Adults can have teeth sealed against decay, preventing future dental problems AND making it easier to clean back teeth.
Other prevention methods such as diet control to reduce the number of sugar attacks on teeth, plaque removal (brush, floss etc.) and topical fluoride treatments can all be discussed and planned as an overall strategy. Dental decay is entirely preventable, with good planning, if Professional advice is accepted and acted upon!
What's involved in tooth sealant treatment?
The good news is, there are no injections/drilling is involved if done early, so children and adults alike don't mind this sealant treatment. To place teeth sealants, first your dentist specially cleans and dries the teeth and grooves. A conditioning solution is applied, and then the sealant material is brushed into the grooves of the teeth. Some types of sealants harden on their own, while others harden when exposed to a special light. Once hard, the grooves are protected and they can be kept as clean as the other "smooth" surfaces of the tooth.
Sealants are an important part of a preventive dental care program. We like to do these routinely for all erupted teeth that have deep or vulnerable fissure grooves, where decay commonly starts - sealing also makes routine cleaning easier as well as reducing stagnation areas that contribute to bad breath.
Some people argue that sealed teeth may not have decayed in some cases, but as we are NOT drilling tooth, but simply cleaning then sealing, surely Prevention is better than Cure - remember, once there is a decayed hole made, even when then filled, it is a hole in that tooth for life and will need replacement fillings for life too, getting bigger and bigger each time !!!
This is what decay can look like below, when it spreads unchecked and with no Prevention treatments done - imagine what the back teeth must be like decay wise, if even the front teeth have been allowed to decay like this:
What does tooth fissure sealing cost?
At our Practice sealing teeth costs from £35 per tooth, providing everything is favourable for this procedure. Where a little decay has already started, a small tooth coloured filling (no metal and mercury free) could repair this and then the rest of the grooves and fissures and filling are still sealed on top. This is called a Preventive Resin Restoration (PRR) and costs from £55 per tooth, depending on size etc.
We believe that the best filling is natural, healthy tooth, all intact - so just ask you Dentist or Specialist what preventive treatments can be provided for you and your children to help achieve this now and into the future too.
The Importance of good Aftercare and Maintenance !
As well as regular check-ups to your Dentist to prevent problems (or at least catch them very early-on), please follow your aftercare advice and don't neglect your Toothbrushing and Flossing Techniques that reduce Dental Plaque attack on your teeth, gums and dentistry work, especially to prevent new decay coming back on other parts of your tooth or between your teeth, which is a common area too!
Want to know more about brushing and Flossing techniques that prevents bad breath and keeps your Mouth and Dentistry Healthier too?
*Dr.Kilcoyne is a UK registered Specialist in Prosthodontics (GDC No.58373) which includes The Functional and Cosmetic Dentistry aspects of Crowns, Dental Implants, Bridges, Veneers, Fillings, Dentures, Bonding etc. Please go to our MAKE an APPOINTMENT page if you'd like to access his Expertise.