As a dental hygienist, you’ll be committed to ensuring your clients maintain the oral health that’s so important to living a comfortable life. After learning a range of preventative and therapeutic dental techniques during your schooling, you’ll be equipped to exercise your skills in a practical, efficient manner.
Some of these important techniques include removing stains, whitening teeth, performing dental X-rays, and applying dental sealants. Dental sealants are an important tool in the arsenal of an effective dental hygienist. These protective films can help guard against the establishment of cavities and the worsening of tooth decay. Read on for an introduction to sealants.
Sealants Explained for Students in a Dental Hygienist Program
Sealants are a simple concept that can nonetheless radically improve oral health. Dental sealants are a thin, protective coating that is adhered to the chewing surfaces of a person’s back teeth. The coatings are typically made from plastic and other dental materials and are designed to stop cavities from forming on back molars. Molars are difficult to thoroughly clean because they stay far back in the mouth, and their surface is rough and uneven.
Applying dental sealants to these teeth can keep cavities from forming, as well as potentially stop early stages of tooth decay from becoming cavities. The process of applying dental sealants is straightforward, and can be carried out by a graduate of a dental hygienist program. First, the tooth is cleaned and dried. Secondly, an acidic gel is placed over the surface of the tooth. This gel is meant to rough up the surface of the tooth to make it easier for sealants to stick. The gel is rinsed off and the tooth is dried once more, then the sealant is applied. A blue light is used to harden the sealant and get it to fit snugly.
The Usefulness of Dental Sealants
Dental sealants help prevent cavities. They are especially important for school-aged children, who are more prone to cavities and who may not take care to brush hard-to-reach molars. The Centre for Disease Control claims that without dental sealants, children tend to have three times as many cavities.
When the bacteria in the mouth encounter leftover food particles, acids are produced. These acids can create holes in teeth that undermine proper oral health. Sealants keep this acid, as well as bits of food and bacteria, from settling on teeth. The first molars appear around age 6, and the second around age 12. Applying dental sealants to molars as soon as they appear can help keep them free of cavities.
The Necessity of Dental Sealants
Dental sealants enable a person in a dental hygienist career to tackle a major oral health problem: dental caries. Studies found that over 40% of American children aged 2 to 11 have had dental caries, meaning either cavities or tooth decay, in their primary teeth. Caries tend to be slightly more prevalent in boys than in girls, and overall more prevalent in lower-income families.
Dental caries has been defined as the most common preventable chronic disease in the world. Canadians have had significant decreases in rates of dental decay over the last 40 years, and the use of sealants can continue this trend. Sealants can protect 80% of cavities for the first two years of use, and then 50% of cavities for up to four years. They last several years before they need to be replaced, unless displacement or damage occurs.
Do you want to enroll in a dental hygienist course?
Contact Oxford College for more information!