Protecting the teeth from cavities is not an easy job. No matter how well we brush our teeth, a lot of bacteria get left behind in the hard-to-reach spots in the mouth, such as the posterior teeth, the rear surfaces of the teeth, and most importantly, the occlusal grooves. Occlusal grooves are the narrow crevices on the surface of the molars and premolars.
These grooves can house thousands of bacteria, though they look just wide enough to fit a single tooth bristle. Over time, the accumulation of food debris and microbes could increase so much that the enamel would erode slowly, giving rise to cavities. This can put the tooth at risk of developing a root canal infection too.
How can the occlusal grooves be protected?
Have you heard of dental sealants? They are acrylic or composite restorations that help to perfectly seal off the occlusal grooves, thereby preventing the microbes from getting into them. This considerably reduces the chances of developing a cavity in the molars and premolars. Also, the food you chew would not get stuck in them.
How are sealants applied?
The dentist would screen the teeth to check for cavities and other infections. In case the teeth have sustained tooth decay, they will be treated prior to applying the sealant. The decay will be removed and the walls of the cavity will be scrubbed to get rid of the microbes. The sealant will be applied to the tooth after its surface is etched and roughened. Once it is shaped accordingly, it will be hardened using a curing light.
Caring for the sealant
The sealant would work perfectly as long as it is providing the required sealing against microbes. The life of a sealant ranges anywhere between three to five years, but in certain cases, they do last longer. Hence, chewing foods that are too hard, opening bottle caps with the teeth, eating foods that are too hot or too cold, etc. should be avoided. This would ensure the sealant stays intact and in position. In case you notice anything wrong with the sealant, visit your dentist soon to get it diagnosed.
Call us at (262) 886-9440 or schedule an online appointment to know more about sealants.