Highly effective in preventing decay on the biting surfaces of your chewing teeth, dental sealants are a simple procedure in which a tooth-colored acrylic “coating” is painted onto the surface of the tooth. This effectively “seals” the deep grooves, acting as a barrier and protecting enamel from plaque and acids.
Sealants protect the depressions and grooves of your teeth from food particles and plaque that brushing and flossing can’t reach.
Easy to apply, sealants take only a few minutes to seal each tooth. Sealants hold up well under the force of normal chewing and can last several years before a reapplication is needed.
Children and adults can benefit from sealants in the fight against tooth decay.
How do sealants work?
In many cases, it is nearly impossible for children to clean the tiny grooves between their teeth. When a sealant is applied, the surface of the tooth is somewhat flatter and smoother. There are no longer any places on the chewing part of the tooth that the bristles of a toothbrush can’t reach and clean. Since plaque can be removed more easily and effectively, there is much less chance that decay will start.
What is the life expectancy of tooth sealants?
The longevity of sealants varies. Sealants that have remained in place for three to five years would be considered successful, however, sealants can last much longer. It is not uncommon to see sealants last 7-10 years and still be intact on the teeth of adults. Our office will check your child’s sealants during routine dental visits and will recommend repair or reapplication when necessary.
Which teeth should be sealed?
Any tooth that shows characteristics of developing decay should be sealed. The most common teeth for a dentist to seal are a child’s back teeth, 6 and 12 year molars. The recommendation for sealants should be considered on a case-by-case basis. In high risk patients, sealants may be recommended on the primary molars, especially if a sedation appointment is indicated for the treatment or cavities elsewhere in a child’s mouth.
What is the procedure for placing sealants?
Generally the procedure takes just one visit. Placing dental sealants is a very easy process. The tooth is cleaned, conditioned, and dried. The sealant is then flowed onto the grooves of the tooth where it is hardened with a special blue light and then buffed. All normal activities can occur directly after the appointment, including eating and drinking.
How important is brushing and flossing after sealants are applied?
It is just as important for your child to brush and floss their teeth. Sealants are only one part of the defensive plan against tooth decay and if good hygiene is lacking the acids in plaque can dissolve the bond of the sealant over time.
How much does it cost?
This treatment is quite affordable, especially when you consider the value of protection against tooth decay. Most dental insurance companies cover sealants. Check with your insurance company about your child’s coverage.