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Regular brushing and flossing comprise the foundation of good oral hygiene. But when cavity prevention is the specific goal, additional preventive steps may be necessary – especially for children, who often are unable to brush and floss thoroughly. And not even a diligent adult can always depend upon their brushing skills since toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the depressions and grooves of back teeth (molars and premolars) to extract food and plaque. As an article by Colgate explains, “The chewing surfaces of the molar and premolar teeth have grooves — "fissures" — that make them vulnerable to decay. These fissures can be deep, are difficult to clean, and can be narrower than even a single bristle of a toothbrush. Plaque accumulates in these areas, and the acid from bacteria in the plaque attacks the enamel and cavities can develop.” What are Dental Sealants and Their Advantages? While dentists recommend fluoride to prevent decay, dental sealants provide extra protection for the grooved and pitted areas by providing a smooth surface covering over the fissured areas. Dental sealants are made of a plastic resin that bonds into the pits and fissures of the chewing surfaces on the back teeth, acting as a barrier to protect enamel from plaque and acids. It can be clear, white, or have a slight tint, depending upon the type of dental sealant. This proven treatment has been used for over 40 years as a safe, effective way to prevent cavities. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), children and adults can benefit from sealants, but the earlier you get them, the better. The first molars appear at around age 6, and second molars break through around age 12. Sealing these teeth as soon as they come through can keep them cavity-free from the start. The ADA reports that sealants have been shown to reduce the risk of decay by nearly 80% in molars. This is especially important when it comes to your child's dental health. In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a report on the importance of sealants for school-aged children, of which only 43% of children ages 6-11 have. According to the CDC, "… school-age children without sealants have almost three times more cavities than children with sealants." While dental sealants give children a good start on healthy teeth for a lifetime, they also can benefit adults. As mentioned earlier, brushing and flossing alone don’t always reach the food particles that promote bacteria growth – which in turn, promote decay and plaque. Adults with weak tooth enamel caused by certain medications or the wear-and-tear that occurs over time are more susceptible to experiencing cavities, as well. The CDC reports that dental sealants can last up to nine years. However, they were shown to prevent 80 percent of cavities for two years after application, with 50 percent protection for up to four years. Of course, your dentist will evaluate the condition of your (or your child’s) dental sealants during each twice-yearly examination, and will advise you when they need to be reapplied. How Are Dental Sealants Applied? Sealants only take a few minutes to apply to each tooth, and the non-invasive process is simple and painless. The basic application steps are as follow: The teeth that are to be sealed are thoroughly cleaned. Each tooth is then dried, and cotton or another absorbent material is put around the tooth to keep it dry. An etching solution is put on the chewing surfaces of the teeth to roughen them, which helps the sealant bond to the teeth. The teeth are rinsed and dried. Sealant is then painted onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. Sometimes a special curing light is used to help the sealant harden. The sealant is applied in one visit. You (or your child) can eat and drink immediately after treatment. The Take-Home Message Dental sealants are a proven, effective cavity prevention treatment for children and adults. When used to reinforce good oral hygiene habits, they can be a valuable long-term way to protect your teeth – and your child’s teeth – from decay. At NK Family Dental, it is our mission to provide the highest quality and most compassionate oral care to our Chicago patients, including both dental and periodontal services. Our dental specialists include our general dentist, Dr. Nilofer Khan, our periodontist, Dr. Amir Danesh, and our endodontist, Dr. Sabek. We serve the neighborhoods of Logan Square, Bucktown, Humboldt Park, and Wicker Park with the dedication that’s earned us the reputation as the Best Dentist in Chicago! We understand that the main concern you may have is cost, which is why we accept all major PPO plans for dental insurance and also offer our in-house dental plan. Please see our financing page for more information. Schedule your visit through ZocDoc, or contact us directly. We look forward to treating you soon and improving your smile!
Advantages of Dental Sealants for Children and Adults

Regular brushing and flossing comprise the foundation of good oral hygiene. But when cavity prevention is the specific goal, additional preventive steps may be necessary – especially for children, who often are unable to brush and floss thoroughly. And not even a diligent adult can always depend upon their brushing skills since toothbrush bristles cannot…

The Best and Worst Foods for a Healthy Smile
The Best and Worst Foods for a Healthy Smile

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a tremendous benefit to your oral health. A well-balanced, nutritious diet is important because the food we eat supplies the nutrients that the body, bones, teeth and gums need to renew tissues and help fight infection and disease — including periodontal (gum) disease. But there’s another important aspect to choosing…

All About Dental Bridges
All About Dental Bridges

Dental bridges are a long-established restoration for missing teeth. While dental implants seem to get most of the attention nowadays, a bridge may still be the best solution to keeping your smile — as well as your ability to chew, should the bridge be used to replace missing molars. A dental bridge is a false…

Teeth Whitening: Is it Safe to DIY?
Teeth Whitening: Is it Safe to DIY?

A bright, white smile helps make a person appear youthful, energetic and healthy. But teeth that become darkened and yellowed over the years – or were never white because of genetics or thin enamel – can have a negative effect on your self-confidence. Especially in today’s “new normal” of video conferencing, white teeth go a…

Deep Teeth Cleaning: Everything You Need To Know
Deep Teeth Cleaning: Everything You Need To Know

Hopefully, you’re accustomed to the twice-annual cleaning that your dentist’s hygienist performs as part of your regular checkup. But if you’re experiencing symptoms of periodontal disease, your dentist will recommend a deep cleaning procedure. While this may sound ominous, deep cleaning can — with diligent follow-up on your part — put you back on the…

How To Know If You Suffer From TMJ Disorder
How To Know If You Suffer From TMJ Disorder

The simple acts of speaking, chewing and swallowing are easy to take for granted. But for those who suffer from temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, every jaw movement results in pain. Even when the jaws are at rest, those affected may still experience discomfort.  As our blog post — “Jaw Pain? It Could be a TMJ…

Are Online Teeth Aligners Safe?
Are Online Teeth Aligners Safe?

From banking to making major purchases — such as homes and cars — more consumers than ever feel comfortable bypassing traditional providers to deal directly with online services. Unfortunately, this trend includes medical treatments that should require a doctor-patient relationship. Case in point: online teeth aligners. Also known as mail-order teeth aligners, these products are…

What is Periodontal Surgery?
What is Periodontal Surgery?

If your periodontist tells you that you need periodontal surgery, feeling anxious is an understandable first reaction. However, learning what it involves and how it will improve your oral – and overall – health can help you feel better and more confident. In this blog post, we’ll cover the reasons your periodontist may recommend periodontal…

What Are Veneers?
What Are Veneers?

Everyone wants a perfect smile! But sometimes, even those who take perfect care of their teeth can’t attain one naturally, for numerous reasons. Fortunately, a dazzling smile can be yours through the technology and artistry of cosmetic dentistry. While there are several options available, veneers may be the right solution – depending upon your oral…

What You Need To Know About Dental Bone Grafts
What You Need To Know About Dental Bone Grafts

When it comes to bone grafts, the procedure sounds more frightening than it really is. Dental bone grafting is a well-established, proven treatment method that replaces missing bone in your jaw to provide a secure platform for dental implants, as well as to restore bone that has been reabsorbed as the result of periodontal (gum)…