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Dental Pediatrics FAQ

Things to know about Tooth Sealants

What are dental sealants?

The term "dental sealant" or " tooth sealant " refers to a plastic which a dentist bonds into the grooves of the chewing surface of a tooth as a means of helping to prevent the formation of tooth decay ("cavities").

Why are sealants placed on teeth?

Teeth Sealing Products
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Tooth decay is caused by the white film that forms on a person's teeth, dentist's refer to this film as "plaque". The longer plaque remains on a tooth's surface the more likely it will be able to create a cavity. The idea behind brushing teeth is that the plaque that has accumulated on a tooth's surface is scrubbed off. Some teeth however, because of their anatomy, are harder to effectively clean than others.

Special Areas

Some back teeth, especially molars, are difficult for a person to clean because the grooves in the chewing part of the tooth (the tooth's "pits and fissures") are deep and narrow. Even though the person brushes they can not clean the plaque off adequately because the bristles of their toothbrush are literally too large to gain access into the bottom of the tooth's grooves. Because some plaque is not cleaned off a cavity can develop.

A dentist can combat this situation by bonding plastic (the dental sealant) into the grooves of a tooth. The net result is that the surface of the tooth is somewhat flatter and smoother. There are no longer any places on the chewing part of the tooth that the bristles of a toothbrush can't reach and clean. Since plaque can be removed more easily and effectively, there is much less chance that decay will start.

Another difficulty related to deep grooves in teeth is that sometimes the thickness of the enamel at the base of the groove is thinner than the enamel that encases other portions of the tooth. This means that not only can deep narrow grooves make it more likely a person's tooth will develop decay (because the tooth can't be cleaned effectively) but also that the cavity which does form has an easier time of penetrating the enamel layer because it is thinner.

When applied correctly, sealants are an exceptional preventive service for patients at high risk for caries. Professional sealant products are available through dentists and dental hygienists.

Dental sealants have formulations that may cause allergic reactions for some patients. Methacrylate and acrylate resins are two known agents.

Sealant Examples

  • Seal America

    Seal America Sealant is available in Regular and Quick Set. The Quick Set is specifically designed for cold, damp conditions with a faster setting time.

    Regular Set is designed with a longer setting time for use in a hot, humid environment. Under ideal conditions, the equivalent of two quadrants can be sealed from one mix of Regular Set or Quick Set sealant. Sealant curing time occurs in about 35 - 60 seconds.

  • Clinpro™ Sealant

    Makes sealant application easier. Clinpro™ Sealant is the first sealant with a color change technology.

    It goes on pink for easy observation and application, and then cures to white.

    Applied with a proprietary syringe tip, this low viscosity, fluoride-releasing sealant readily flows into pits and fissures for less waste and less need for occlusal adjustment.

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