How Often Should Sealants be Replaced?
Sealants are a common type of dental treatment that is used to prevent cavities and decay from forming on the chewing surfaces of the teeth, particularly among children. While sealants are a great method of preventive dental care, they are not permanent and will eventually wear off. The question is, after how long should they be replaced? In this article, we'll discuss everything you need to know about sealants and when you should get them replaced.
What are Sealants?
Sealants are clear or tooth-colored coatings of plastic that are placed on the biting surfaces of molars to keep bacteria and food particles out of the hard-to-reach grooves and fissures. The procedure is quick, painless, and non-invasive, without the need for drilling or removing any part of the tooth. Sealants adhere tightly to the enamel, forming a barrier that reduces the risk of cavities and future decay.
How Long do Sealants Last?
The lifespan of sealants varies depending on various factors such as the wearer's habits, oral hygiene, and the quality of the sealant material. Sealants can last anywhere from two to ten years, but the optimal lifespan is around five to seven years. However, the best way to know how long your sealants will last is to ask your dentist, who will evaluate them during regular dental check-ups.
When Should Sealants be Replaced?
Although sealants can last for many years, they are not everlasting. Eventually, they will wear off, chip, or become scratched from the constant force of grinding and biting. If you notice that your sealants are wearing down or missing, you should see your dentist immediately to get them replaced.
Here are some signs that your sealants need to be replaced:
1. Visible wear and tear: If you notice that your sealants are visibly chipped or worn down, then they are overdue for replacement.
2. Discoloration: If your sealants begin to yellow or darken, it may be a sign of leakage, which could lead to bacteria getting inside and causing decay.
3. Tooth sensitivity: If you experience pain or sensitivity when chewing or biting, it may be a sign that your sealants have worn down, and your tooth's enamel is exposed.
4. Gum inflammation: If you notice swollen or bleeding gums around the sealant area, it could be a sign of decay, and you should see your dentist for a replacement.
5. Time has passed: If it's been more than ten years since you had sealant placed, then it's time for a replacement, regardless of whether they appear in good condition or not.
How to Make Sealants Last Longer
While you cannot prevent sealants from eventually wearing down, some things can be done to prolong their lifespan.
1. Good oral hygiene habits: Brushing and flossing regularly can help preserve your sealants' integrity by keeping the teeth clean and decreasing the number of bacteria in your mouth.
2. Reduce biting pressure: Avoid chewing on hard objects, such as ice or hard candy, as this can damage the sealant.
3. Dental check-ups: Regular dental examinations by a professional can help detect any issues before they become significant, allowing you to replace sealants before they wear out or cause damage.
Sealants are a great way to protect your teeth from cavities, but they are not a one-time solution. It's crucial to keep an eye on them and get them replaced when necessary. Applying new sealants is a simple and straightforward process that can help prevent cavities and maintain healthy teeth for years to come. If you are unsure if your sealants require replacement, we recommend opting for a dental check-up to assess their condition..