What are Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are thin, protective coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of molars and premolars. They act as a shield, preventing food particles and bacteria from settling into the grooves and pits of teeth. This helps in preventing cavities.
Who Can Benefit from Sealants?
While they are most commonly used in children and teenagers, dental sealants can also benefit adults. Children and teenagers often receive sealants as soon as their permanent molars come in (around age 6 and 12), but adults with deep grooves or a high risk of cavities can also benefit.
How Are Sealants Applied?
The process of applying dental sealants is painless and non-invasive. There’s no need for anesthesia or drilling. It’s a quick and comfortable procedure. Here’s how it’s done:
- The dentist cleans and dries the teeth.
- An acidic gel is applied to the teeth to roughen the surface slightly. This helps the sealant adhere better.
- After rinsing and drying the tooth again, the sealant is painted onto the tooth’s surface.
- A special curing light is used to harden the sealant, making it a durable protective barrier.
Longevity and Maintenance
Dental sealants can last for several years, often up to a decade or more. However, they should be checked during regular dental check-ups to ensure they haven’t chipped or worn away. If necessary, your dentist can reapply sealant to maintain their effectiveness.
Dental sealants are a cost-effective preventive measure. The cost of sealants is relatively low compared to treating cavities. Many dental insurance plans cover sealants for children, and some also cover them for adults. Check with your insurance provider to understand your coverage.
Effectiveness in Preventing Cavities
Dental sealants are highly effective in preventing tooth decay, particularly in the back teeth where cavities are most common. They create a physical barrier that blocks bacteria and food particles from reaching the tooth’s surface.
Sealants Are Not a Substitute for Good Oral Hygiene
While dental sealants provide excellent protection, they are not a replacement for regular brushing, flossing, and routine dental check-ups. A comprehensive oral care routine is essential for maintaining good dental health.