Dental sealants are a practical cavity-prevention solution to protect adult, teen, and children’s teeth, especially for those who are more prone to cavities. Even with regular brushing and flossing, cavities are always a possibility for several reasons. Genetic factors play a role and other habits such as tooth grinding, eating patterns, brushing technique, age, gum health, and other conditions.
One risk factor for cavities pertains specifically to your molars. Molars are filled with uneven surfaces and crevices to help you grind up your food when you chew. This means there are a lot of areas for food to get trapped, even when you do your best to brush and clean them. The pressure of your bite, which is quite strong, forces food down into these crevices and small fissures. This is why we recommend getting children sealants early on when their molars come in.
Dental sealants provide an extra layer of protection between the surface of your tooth’s enamel and what you eat. They are made of tooth-colored resin materials and are applied directly to your teeth. This fills the little crevices and places where food can get trapped, leaving no areas for bacteria to eat away at the surface of your tooth.
To apply dental sealants, we first clean your teeth so that there is no bacteria or trapped material on the tooth’s surface before the sealant is applied. Once the cleaning is complete, we prepare the tooth’s surface to help the sealant stick better. Last, we apply the sealant to the tooth surface and use a special light to help the sealant harden.
Sealants are made to last many years, up to 5-10 years. How long they last can be impacted by your brushing and cleaning habits, as well as what you eat. Chewing on hard foods like candy or ice can wear on sealants or loosen them. Sealants are made to last, so you shouldn’t worry about this, but it’s important to know what to expect and when you might need to touch up dental sealants, as they are easy to repair and maintain.
Last, dental sealants are a pain-free procedure that only takes a few minutes per tooth. No drilling or intensive treatment is possible. Many insurances cover sealants to some extent. Because of their effectiveness, they can help save you time, pain, and money as they effectively prevent cavities down the road.
There are different reasons you might be considering dental sealants for you or your family members. Kids can be especially prone to cavities for several reasons, making their molars excellent candidates for sealants early on. Children’s mouths are typically more exposed to a larger set of potentially harmful bacteria because they tend to wash their hands less and have other habits that contribute to more bacteria being in their mouths.
Dental sealants can be just as effective for teens and adults as young children, assuming there isn’t decay or filling on the tooth surface. Some patients who rarely have cavities might not care to try sealants. However, dental sealants present a possible solution for those who are doing what they can with brushing and flossing and still having cavities regularly—even some patients who rarely get cavities like sealants’ extra protection.
Ask about dental sealants next time you come for an examination, or schedule time to talk with us about them. We can let you know if you or your family members are good candidates for dental sealants.