A dental sealant is a quick, easy, non-surgical treatment that can help prevent tooth decay. It is a thin but strong plastic coating that is painted on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. The sealant quickly bonds into the depressions and grooves of the teeth, the areas cavities are likely to begin, forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth.
Although good brushing and flossing can remove food particles and plaque from the smooth surfaces of teeth, they cannot always get into all the nooks and crannies of the back teeth to remove the food and plaque. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas from tooth decay by "sealing out" plaque and food.
WHO SHOULD GET SEALANTS
Because of the likelihood of developing decay in the depressions and grooves of the premolars and molars, children and teenagers are candidates for sealants.
However, adults without decay or fillings in their molars can also benefit fromsealants.
Typically, children should get sealants on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as these teeth come in. In this way, the sealants can protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years of ages 6 to 14.
In some cases, dental sealants may also be appropriate for baby teeth, such as when a child's baby teeth have deep depressions and grooves. Because baby teeth play such an important role in holding the correct spacing for permanent teeth, it's important to keep these teeth healthy so they are not lost too early.
HOW ARE SEALANTS APPLIED
Applying sealant is a simple and painless non-surgical process. No drilling or removal of tooth structure is required. It takes only a few minutes for your dentist or hygienist to apply the sealant to seal each tooth. The application steps are as follows:
• First the teeth that are to be sealed are thoroughly cleaned.
• The chewing surfaces are treated to “roughen” them up, which helps the sealant bond to the teeth.
• Sealant is then painted onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. Sometimes a special curing light is used to help the sealant harden.
HOW LONG DO SEALANTS LAST
Sealants can protect teeth from decay for up to 10 years, but they need to be checked for chipping or wearing at regular dental check-ups. Your dentist or hygeinist can replace sealants as necessary.
DOES INSURANCE COVER THE COST OF SEALANTS
Many insurance companies cover the cost of sealants. As us about this at your next dental appointment to see if sealants are covered under your plan.