Preserving your oral health is your general dentist’s top priority. In fact, they offer a variety of preventative dental treatments to decrease the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. While many people are familiar with the importance of semi-annual cleanings, not as many people are familiar with other types of preventative dental treatments.
One preventative treatment your general dentist offers are dental sealants. Dental sealants are thin coatings that are applied to the chewing surface of molars. Since the highly texturized chewing surface of molars are one of the most common tooth decay locations, dental sealants are applied as a way of decreasing this risk.
In most cases, sealants are recommended and used for children to protect their teeth until they develop proper dental hygiene habits. However, sealants can also be used for adults, especially those who have trouble brushing and flossing towards the back of their mouth. This makes sealants ideal for those who have arthritis or other mobility issues that can potentially inhibit their ability to maintain their oral care routine.
When considering the placement of dental sealants, one must also consider how long dental sealants last in order to know when they need to be replaced. Like any dental treatment, dental sealants wear down over time and will lose their effectiveness. For this reason, they will need to be checked by your dentist during your semi-annual dental exam.
Dental sealants can be left on the teeth for about nine years. However, most general dentists recommend replacing them after year four. This is because their effectiveness decreases over time, and they are most effective in their first four years. In order to minimize the risk of developing decay with a sealant or having bacteria trapped under a worn sealant, dentists will replace the sealant.
It is also important to note that sealants may wear down faster if they are exposed to extreme stress. One example of this would be in a patient with bruxism. Constant clenching and grinding of the teeth will place additional strain on the sealant surface and will likely cause it to wear down faster, as well as increase the risk of sealant damage. Therefore, a night guard may also be recommended by your dentist to maintain the effectiveness of the sealant and protect your teeth from damage.
Other things that can damage sealants include nail biting, chewing on ice or pens, using your teeth to open packages, and smoking. Additionally chewing on hard foods like nuts, hard candies, and popcorn can also increase the risk of damage, as well as premature wear.
In conclusion, dental sealants can last around four years before they need to be replaced. While they can remain on teeth for nine years, the vast majority of dentists recommend replacing them sooner to maintain the greatest level of benefits and the smallest amount of risk. To keep dental sealants in good condition, certain behaviors must be avoided and regular dental appointments every six months are suggested so that your dentist can determine the condition of the sealant.
Dr. Dokhanchi earned the degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) with clinical honors in 1992. Dr. Dokhanchi attends numerous continuing education courses every year in order to stay current with the latest techniques and technology in the world of dentistry. He considers Ethics, Quality, Safety, and Comfort the pillars of his dental practice and believes that communicating with patients is essential to quality dental care.