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SEALANTS

A PAINLESS WAY TO KEEP OUT CAVITIES | BY DR. SHOHREH SHARIF

Dr. Shohreh Sharif

Brushing and flossing regularly are the best ways to help prevent cavities. However, it can be tough to reach every nook and cranny. This is especially true with our back teeth, called molars. These teeth are special because of their strength and the pivotal role they play in chewing. But did you know that molars have surfaces with grooves that allow bacteria to hide more easily?

 

Because of their shape molars and premolars are more susceptible to cavities. The good news is there is something called a sealant that helps give our teeth even more protection. This thin protective coating made of a special dental material goes over the chewing surfaces of molars and can keep cavities from forming. In certain instances, sealants can also stop early decay from becoming a full-blown cavity.

 

Studies have shown that sealants can reduce the risk of decay nearly 75 to 80 percent in molars. We get our first set of molars at around six years of age and our second at 12. So, this is a very important consideration in keeping your child in good oral health as they grow. A study from the Centers for Disease Control released in 2016 stated that only 43 percent of school-aged children from six to 11 years old had sealants. According to the CDC, “school-age children without sealants have almost three times more cavities than children with sealants.”

 

Sealants are appropriate for children and adults.

Dr. Shohreh Sharif has been practicing dentistry for 25 years. She is:

 

Assistant Professor, Howard University College of Dentistry

 

Diplomate, American Board of Pediatric Dentistry

 

Diplomate, American Orthodontic Society

 

IAD Top Pediatric Dentist among Leading Physicians of the World

 

Fellow, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry

 

The process is quick and painless. Sealants can often last for years and are examined at your regular checkup by your dentist. Some dental plans cover the treatment. Contact your insurance company to find out what kind of coverage you have.

 

This article may have raised questions about sealants. To learn more, do not hesitate to reach out to your dentist or the doctors at Greater Washington Dentistry. Ask Dr. Shohreh Sharif if sealants are appropriate for you or your child.

 

HOW ARE SEALANTS EFFECTIVE?
Think of sealants as raincoats for your teeth. The cavity-causing bacteria that live in everyone’s mouth use the left-over food to produce acids that can attack the teeth’s enamel. These acid attacks can create holes or cavities on our teeth. Once the chewing surface of our teeth is sealed, those bits of food will be kept out. Sealants stop bacteria and acid from settling on your teeth–just like a raincoat would keep you dry and safe. Sealants also can be used over areas of early decay to prevent further damage to your teeth. Because some sealants are clear, your dentist can keep an eye on teeth to make sure the sealant is doing its job properly.

 

IS THE PROCESS PAINLESS?
Applying sealants to your teeth is a quick and painless process. Your dentist will clean and dry your teeth before placing a conditioner gel on them. This gel roughs up the tooth surface so a strong bond will form between your teeth and the sealant. After a few seconds, the teeth will be rinsed off and dried before applying the sealant onto the chewing surfaces of your teeth. Afterwards, a special blue light is used to harden the sealant to make it strong to last for a long time.

 

ARE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS?
There are no known side effects–other than those associated with allergies. Sealants contain fluoride releasing material which is a mineral that strengthens enamel but does not contain any chemicals to cause you or a loved one any harm.

 

RESOURCES
ADA–American Dental Association: Sealants, 2020
CDC–Effective Protection for Children: Dental Sealants Prevent Cavities, 2016
AAPD–American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry:
Evidence-based Practical Guideline, 2016