Bacteria are the enemy of teeth, capable of reducing your chompers to rotten nubs with enough time. Even people who brush and floss as directed on a regular basis can develop cavities or other oral health issues because of out-of-control bacteria. However, putting dental sealant on your teeth is one tool out of many that can protect them from damage, but is the procedure worth the $35 to $60 per tooth? Here's what you need to know to help you decide if getting dental sealants is right for you.
An Effective Barrier Against Bacterial Attacks
To understand how to judge the worthiness of dental sealant, it's important to know how it works. Similar to the plastic coverings people put on furniture to protect the items from spills and stains, a dental sealant is a coating applied to the molars designed to act as a physical barrier between the teeth and bacteria. The sealant prevents cavities by literally keeping bacteria away from the tooth surface.
Now, many people may think dental sealant is unnecessary after hearing this. After all, the whole purpose of brushing, flossing, and using a mouth rinse is to remove bacteria and the damaging plaque they leave behind. However, it's important to note that teeth aren't smooth. Molar surfaces are covered in grooves that help grind up food.
Unfortunately, the average dental routine doesn't completely clear these grooves of food debris and bacteria, which is why people who are on top of their dental care game can still get cavities. Dental sealants fill these grooves and lock out bacteria without inhibiting the form or function of teeth.
This is why dental sealant is so highly effective at preventing cavities. According to the CDC, this substance stops 80% of cavities from forming in the back teeth, where the majorities of them occur. Additionally, the earlier in life dental sealant is placed on teeth, the less likely patients will develop cavities or other oral health problems later in life.
It's Not Effective in All Cases
Be aware, though, that dental sealant is not a magic cure-all that will shield all teeth from bacterial damage for all time. This substance works best on healthy teeth that don't have any bacterial damage at all, which is why many dentists recommend the procedure for children. However, adults can also have their teeth sealed as long as they are relatively cavity-free.
In some cases, dental sealants can be placed on teeth that have tiny cavities. The sealant will lock the bacteria inside where they'll die and keep additional bacteria from getting to the tooth. In general, though, a dental sealant is not effective in teeth with significant cavity damage, and the sealant may actually make things worse for patients who have them. Additionally, people who have shallow grooves and teeth that have been restored using other dental procedures are not a good fit for this treatment.
For more information about dental sealants or to discuss other ways to protect your teeth, contact a local dental office like Hayden Dental.