Dental Sealants

Dental sealants are a thin plastic coating painted on the chewing surfaces of children’s teeth (premolars and molars) to prevent future tooth decay. When bacteria collects in the grooves of the teeth, they produce acids that lead to cavities.

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To apply the sealants, dentists clean and dry each tooth that will be sealed. They then paint an acidic gel onto the chewing surface of each tooth to roughen it up for a bonding surface before applying the liquid sealant and shining a curing light on it.

They Prevent Cavities

Sealants are a great preventive tool for your teeth. They act like raincoats for your molars, protecting the deep grooves and pits on your back teeth from bacteria that lead to tooth decay. They are a thin coating that we paint onto the chewing surfaces of your back teeth (molars) which can protect them for years. It is a quick, painless treatment and the most effective way to stop tooth decay in its tracks.

While dental sealants are most often recommended for children, they can benefit anyone with permanent molars and pre-molars. The deeper grooves of these back teeth are more prone to cavities and are difficult to reach with a toothbrush. Children especially need extra protection on their molars, as they are more likely to develop cavities than adults. They also have trouble brushing their molars correctly and often don’t floss, which can make it easier for bacteria to enter the grooves of their teeth and cause decay.

Additionally, children tend to eat more sugary foods and have more difficulty keeping up with their oral hygiene routine than adults. They can benefit from sealants on their permanent molars as soon as they begin to come through at age six or seven and on their second molars around age 12 or 13. Dental insurance companies usually cover the cost of sealants for children up to a certain age.

They Are Painless

Dental sealants are a quick, painless procedure that can be performed on children’s teeth to help prevent tooth decay. The procedure involves brushing, drying, and then applying a liquid resin to the biting surfaces of their permanent back teeth, called molars and pre-molars, where grooves or pits can trap food debris or plaque. The teeth are then sealed with the resin and cured with a special curing light to help protect them from future cavities.

While kids are the primary target market for dental sealants, adults at risk for tooth decay can also benefit from them. This includes those who don’t brush or floss their teeth very well, or who have a diet that is high in sugary foods and beverages. Additionally, adults with special needs who have a mental or physical challenge that makes consistent oral hygiene more difficult can benefit from dental sealants as well.

Sealants are typically placed on a child’s first and second permanent molars, which usually come in around age six and 12, but can be applied to baby molars that have deep pits and grooves as well. It is better to get these teeth sealed as soon as they erupt, before the grooves have had a chance to fill with plaque and food debris. This can save money, time, and pain in the long run.

They Are Affordable

Dental sealants are one of the best preventative tools available to help keep teeth healthy. They are usually covered by most dental insurance plans, making them a very affordable option for both children and adults with good oral hygiene. Getting sealants as soon as children’s permanent molars and premolars erupt will help protect their teeth through the cavity-prone years of ages 6 to 14. Adults with healthy back teeth may also benefit from having them placed, especially those with deep grooves on their chewing surfaces.

The application of sealants is quick and painless, requiring no anesthetic or drilling. The dentist or hygienist will isolate the tooth to be treated by cleaning it and placing cotton around it, so that saliva cannot interfere with the bonding of the sealant material. Then, the chewing surface of the tooth is painted with a runny dental sealant material that fills the grooves and pits. Once the tooth is fully sealed, the dentist shines a curing light on the tooth to harden the sealant.

There are concerns that the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) is used in the production of some dental sealants, but the ADA states that the amount of BPA in the sealed tooth is very small and that we get much more exposure to BPA by breathing in air or touching receipts than from using dental sealants.

They Are Effective

The sealants are thin coatings painted on the chewing surfaces of back teeth (molars) to prevent tooth decay. The procedure is quick, painless and doesn’t require anesthesia or drilling. First, the chewing surface of the tooth is thoroughly cleaned to remove any plaque or debris. Next, the tooth is isolated by placing a cotton roll or rubber dam around it to keep other parts of the mouth from touching the tooth during the application process. The tooth is then rinsed and dried. A mild “etching” solution is then applied to the chewing surface of the tooth to roughen it up, which helps the sealant bond more effectively. After a few seconds, the tooth is rinsed and dried once again. Then the sealant is painted onto the chewing surfaces of the tooth, filling in the pits and fissures. Some sealants are self-hardening, while others need to be set with a curing light.

The grooves and depressions on the chewing surfaces of molars are called pits and fissures, and they are particularly susceptible to cavities. Because of this, sealants are usually placed on children’s molars and premolars as soon as they erupt to protect them from developing decay during their cavity-prone years. However, adults without decay or fillings in their molars can also receive a sealant treatment to help prevent future dental problems.