What are Dental Sealants and How Do They Protect Teeth from Cavities?

January 21, 2020

Dental SealantsWhile you and your child anxiously wait for the dentist to review your child’s x-rays, you are probably doing everything in your power to not get up and start pacing the halls. Will the dentist say those five dreaded words… “Your child has a cavity” or will they receive a clean bill of health?

You start to make a check-list in your head…

  • Did we brush our teeth twice a day…yes, check
  • Did we limit sodas, sugary drinks, and candy…yes, check
  • Are we consistent about family dental check-ups…yes, check

We often think to ourselves that we are stressing for nothing. Unfortunately, even with all the above items checked off, your child is still diagnosed with a cavity. Ugh!

Preventing Cavities with Dental Sealants
While many parents really go the extra mile to help their kids maintain healthy and cavity-free teeth, it can often feel like an impossible battle. So, what is a parent to do? One option is to ask your dentist about dental sealants.

What are Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are thin coatings that are painted on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (molars) in order to help prevent cavities (tooth decay). Since it can be difficult to clean these surfaces with a toothbrush (especially for children), sealants protect these teeth from cavities by shielding them from bacteria and sitting food.
Since children are usually not as thorough with their teeth brushing, they are at the most risk for developing cavities on these cavity-prone molars.

Best Time to Get Sealants
For children, molars usually develop when they are about 6 years old and then again when they are around 12 years old. Ideally, children should get sealants on their premolars and permanent molars as soon as these teeth erupt. In this way, the sealants can protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years of ages 6 to 14.

Adults with molars lacking decay or fillings can also ask about getting sealants.

How Long Do Sealants Last?
Sealants can last up to 10 years. Your dentist should examine them at each visit to ensure they are in good condition.

How Dental Sealants are Applied
The process of receiving dental sealants is simple and painless.  It only takes a few minutes for your dentist or hygienist to apply the sealant on each tooth where it is needed.

The dental sealant application steps are as follows:

  • The teeth are thoroughly cleaned.
  • Each tooth is then dried.
  • An acid solution is placed on the chewing surfaces of the teeth to roughen them up in order to help the sealant grip on the teeth.
  • The teeth are then rinsed and dried.
  • A sealant is then painted onto the tooth enamel;  as the sealant hardens, it bonds directly to the tooth.

Most dental providers agree that dental sealants are an easy way to help prevent cavities, especially in children and teens ages 6 – 14.

Learn More, Get Pricing, Insurance Coverage
If you are interested in learning more about dental sealants, contact our dental office. We’d be happy to answer any questions you may have, provide pricing, and check to see how much of the cost is covered by your insurance.

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