What are sealants?
Much like fingerprints, no two teeth are identical. The large chewing teeth in the back of our mouths are your molars. They often have hills and valleys known as cusps and grooves. For some, they are shallow, while for others, they are pronounced and deep.
For children with deep groove anatomy, it is sometimes recommended that they have the deep grooves cleaned and sealed to prevent bacteria and plaque from settling into the tiny spaces that are difficult to clean. This helps prevent tooth decay down the road. In fact, many young adults who have had sealants as children have fewer biting surface decay than those who have not had them. Ask us if sealants are recommended for your child.
Why are sealants recommended more in children?
Around age 5-6, first permanent teeth begins to erupt (introduced into the mouth) – the first molars. These first molars (and later second molars) serve as one of the main chewing apparatuses. Since first molars are introduced in the mouth the earliest of all permanent teeth, they are more prone to decay from being in the mouth the longest. They are expected to function for rest of their lives, so we want to seal the grooves to prevent decay formation early on to preserve the healthy tooth structure for as long as possible.
Why don’t adults get sealants?
They can, but adults have been using their teeth for many years and with deep groove anatomy, simply sealing the grooves may trap bacteria. In such a case, a treatment called a Preventive Resin Restoration (PRR) may be indicated. PRR involves opening up the grooves to remove stain and any undesirable elements hiding within the grooves. Then the prepared grooves are filled with a material that is stronger than a sealant but more fluid than a regular filling material. It is a conservative approach to preventing biting surface tooth decay. Visit us and Dr. Lin will evaluate to determine if PRR is right for you.