Dental Sealants, also known as sealants, are dental treatment options that are intended to prevent tooth decay. They are also termed as pit and fissure sealants or simply fissure sealants. The pits and fissures found on the teeth makes them vulnerable to tooth decay because food sticks in them and they are hard to clean.
Dental sealants are those materials placed in the pits and fissures on the teeth. They create a smooth surface and make it easy to clean. In children who are at higher risk of tooth decay, Dental sealants are placed as soon as the adult molar teeth come through.
Dental sealants are a plastic material, which quickly bonds into the depressions and grooves of the baby teeth or molar & premolar teeth at the back of the mouth teeth. It forms a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth.
The molar teeth are considered the most susceptible teeth to dental caries. The anatomy of the molar teeth inhibits protection from saliva and fluoride and favors plaque buildup. Fissure sealants facilitate prevention and early intervention of tooth decay before it reaches the end stage of the disease. Once the tooth has cavities, a dental restoration might be needed to repair the damage. So it is important to protect it with sealants to preserve our teeth.
The cost of dental sealants is usually priced per tooth and varies from place to place.
It is a simple and painless process to apply the sealant on each tooth. The application steps are as follows:
Even though sealants do wear out naturally and might get damaged over time, they can protect the teeth from decay for up to 10 years. Longevity of the dental sealants also depends on the type of material used. Fissure sealants are checked during routine dental visits to ensure that they are free of chipping or wearing and are retained on the teeth.
Modern dental sealants are classified into two main categories, depending on the type of reaction that takes place as they set in the mouth. They are either resin based or glass ionomer based.
Glass Ionomers go through an acid-base reaction as they set, whereas composite resins are set through a polymerization reaction, which is usually initiated by a dental curing light.
Hybrid materials such as polyacid modified resin or compomer have the characteristics in between resin and glass ionomers. Resin-modified glass ionomers and polyacid-modified resins are set by a combination of acid-base reaction and polymerization reaction.
There is increased fluoride release and increased acid-base content in glass ionomer while there is increased light cure percentage and increased flexural strength in composite resin end.
The advantages of GIC’s are that they contain fluoride and are less moisture sensitive. So despite having poor retention, they can prevent occlusal caries even after the sealant has fallen out due to their fluoride-releasing property.
Authored By Dr Sanjay N - Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopaedics, Bangalore