sealants Ashley Dental Center Paul Ashley DDS PC Dentist in Adelphi Maryland Silver Spring, MD DentalMany patients come to Ashley Dental Center to protect their teeth from decay. One preventative treatment option that we offer at Ashley Dental Center is sealants. A dental sealant procedure helps prevent the buildup of dental decay, especially in your back molars. Keep reading to learn more about how sealants can help your smile. 


How Does Decay Happen? 

Dental decay occurs when debris builds up on your teeth from what you eat and drink. Debris collects bacteria that eat from the food and drink particles on your teeth. The bacteria from an acid that starts to create holes in your teeth, breaking down the tooth’s protective layer, the enamel. As the enamel breaks down, it exposes the underlying layer of the dentin, which can cause your teeth to appear yellow. To stop the spread of the decay, you must undergo a dental filling. If the decay is not prevented, it can reach the center of your tooth, called the pulp, which holds the blood vessels and nerves of the tooth. At this point, you may need a root canal. 

At Ashley Dental Center, Dr. Ashley recommends sealants that can make it hard for debris to build upon your teeth, therefore thwarting the entire decay cascade.


What are Sealants Made Of?

There are two different types of materials that sealants can be made of glass ionomer and composite resin. A glass ionomer is typically applied to children’s teeth, while a composite resin is used for adults. You may recognize composite resin as the material used to fill cavities. A benefit of glass ionomer is that it contains fluoride, which creates a chemical reaction on your teeth called remineralization that strengthens the outer layer of the tooth, the enamel. Composite resin sealants last longer than glass ionomers, yet they do not have the fluoride properties that glass ionomers have. Talk to your dentist to determine which sealant option is best for you. 


Where are Sealants Placed?

We place dental sealants on the back molars of the mouth. When the back molars first erupt, our dentists recommend sealants to protect these teeth at age six or seven. Molars are perfect candidates for sealants because they have numerous grooves and crevices that make it easy for debris and bacteria to collect. Sealing over these grooves and cracks makes it more likely bacteria and debris will slip off the tooth rather than pile on it. 


How is a Dental Sealant Placed?

Placing a dental sealant is a quick process and can be completed in just one dental visit. Typically your dentist will apply sealants after your dental cleaning and exam. The first part of the procedure is to clean and dry the tooth. Next, as with many dental procedures, your dentist will prepare the tooth by opening up the pores of the enamel. He will do this by placing an acidic gel on the tooth. Lastly, your dentist will place the sealant. If you opt for a glass ionomer, it will seal chemically, and if you opt for composite resin, your dentist will fill it with a heated blue light.


How Long do Sealants Last?

The length of time a sealant lasts depends on the type of sealant you opt for and the quality of your oral health practices. Glass ionomers do not last as long as composite resin. With good oral care, sealants can last up to 10 years. Good oral health consists of brushing, flossing, and mouthwash twice a day. Additionally, you should visit Dr. Ashley every six months at Ashley Dental Center for a dental cleaning and exam. 


Dental sealants are an excellent way to strengthen your back molars and protect them from future decay. If you are interested in the benefits of sealants, call our office today.