We select one dentistry-related question from our Instagram page every Friday and give you our no-BS answers.
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Week 7- What does it mean if my child needs sealants?
Sealants are a great non-invasive way to help prevent cavities. They can even stop the early stages of some cavities. Sealants do so by sealing off the nooks and crannies of teeth, where food and bacteria can get trapped and form cavities.
These nooks and crannies in teeth are called the pits and fissures by dental professionals. You can see a network of these pits and fissures as the grooves on the chewing surfaces of back teeth. Some people also have especially deep ones on the sides of their molars or even the backs of their top teeth.
Some pits and fissures are so thin and narrow that toothbrush bristles can’t reach them, even with the best brushing habits and technique. Imagine if you had some bathroom tiles with no grout in between- it would be really difficult to effectively clean inside the thin unsealed crevice. In a similar way, we might recommend sealants for teeth that have deep pits and fissures that can’t be effectively cleaned at home.
So what are sealants made of? They have a similar makeup to tooth-colored fillings, but are more fluid so that they can flow into the narrow pits and fissures of teeth. Often times they are clear or a bright white color, so that they blend into the teeth but have just enough brightness that a dentist can identify if they’re present and maintaining a good seal.
When I was a kid, I had some areas of my teeth which could have benefited from sealing or re-sealing. But instead, the unsealed areas turned into cavities which needed fillings. So if we recommend sealants for you or your child, that means we have identified at-risk areas and would like to provide you a preventive option that can reduce the need for future fillings.