Glass ionomer sealants are some of the best tools dentists have on hand to protect your teeth. This type of sealant has been around since the 1960s and has been an extensive aid for helping prevent cavities and sealing cavity-ridden teeth. Cavities most often occur along the back molars due to how difficult it can be to clean them. For teeth partially erupting to teeth badly damaged by tooth decay, glass ionomer sealants have been providing people of all ages have healthier teeth. But what makes glass ionomers so unique in dentistry? Today, we’re going to be looking at this type of sealant, why glass ionomers are an excellent option, and what you can do to get glass ionomers from your dentist.
What Are Glass Ionomer Sealants?
To understand why glass ionomer is so prominent in dentistry, understanding how sealants work can help provide context. Sealants are thin protective coatings usually made from resin and plastic materials. These materials bond together to the enamel of the tooth to create a tight seal. This seal acts as a shield against bacteria, food debris, and other types of debris that can end up in the mouth. Most often, sealants work to help seal off cavity holes and fissures within the tooth, protecting the inner dentin, pulp, and root channels from getting infected or decaying.
Glass ionomer sealants are a unique part of dentistry due to some extra benefits they have. Glass ionomer sealants are made with water, polymeric acid, and glass powder and, just like many sealants, provide an excellent way to protect people’s teeth from bacteria. However, glass ionomer sealants also provide some added benefits for both the dentist and the patient when treating teeth, including:
- Hardens Within Minutes: The paste made with glass ionomer powder can harden within minutes, making it one of the quickest treatments for decaying teeth. It’s an excellent option for children who have difficulties with sitting still and have some form of dental anxiety. For adults, it helps speed up the treatment process and helps protect their teeth from further damage.
- Clear and Translucent: Once it’s applied and hardened, the sealant appears clear along the surface of the tooth, often matching the tooth’s appearance. For this, it brings great cosmetic benefits to those who feel conscious about their teeth.
- Saliva Resistant During Hardening: One of the biggest challenges that come with treating teeth is removing saliva from the affected area to allow the material to harden. With glass ionomer sealants, it’s resistant to saliva and absorbs it during the hardening process.
Out of all of these benefits, glass ionomer sealants often triumph over others due to how it releases fluoride during the hardening process. As the material hardens along the tooth’s surface, the fluoride material binds to the tooth’s enamel to help strengthen it. Fluoride has been shown in moderate quantities to be highly beneficial to teeth, providing teeth with more hardness, acting as a shield from plaque and sugars. This shield of fluoride acts as a coating against bacteria and prevents it from binding to the surface of the tooth. In these cases, it makes it especially good for children with growing baby teeth and adults who are more prone to cavities.
Cavity Prevention Through Dental Care
Because of their great ability to protect your teeth, these sealants are considered an excellent option by dentists. However, to know if glass ionomer sealants are a good option for you, the best place to learn more is by speaking with your dentist about your options for cavity treatment and prevention.