What is a Dental Sealant?
A dental sealant is a liquid resin material that seals over the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the tooth. It acts as a barrier, protecting the tooth from decay-causing bacteria that can get into the pits and fissures.
Toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the tooth grooves to extract food and plaque. Application of this liquid resin to the caries-susceptible zones fills the areas not cleansed by tooth-brushing.
The sealants are usually applied to the occlusal (chewing) surfaces of the back teeth because of their specific anatomy and the resulting concavities.
How are Sealants Applied?
Sealant application is easy on the patient and it only takes a few minutes to seal each tooth.
The teeth that will be sealed are cleaned. Then the chewing surfaces are roughened to help the sealant adhere to the tooth. The sealant is then applied with a brush onto the tooth enamel. A special curing light is used to help the sealant harden, as it bonds directly to the tooth.
As long as the sealant remains intact, the tooth surface will be protected from decay. Sealants hold up well under the force of chewing and usually last several years before a reapplication is needed.
When Should Children Get Sealants?
There is no exact age or date when children should get sealants. We recommend sealants on permanent teeth and therefore it all depends on when their permanent teeth erupt.
Usually children’s first molars erupt between the age of 6 and 7. Their first and second premolars erupt between the age of 10 and 12. The second molars normally erupt between the age of 12 and 13.
Usually the youngest age for sealants would be 6. Ideally by the age of 14-15 the child would have all his back teeth sealed.
Are Sealants JUST for Kids?
Adults can benefit from sealants as well. We recommend sealants on adults with a propensity for cavities. Susceptible to carries tooth defects should be be sealed regardless of age.
Things to Consider About Your Budget
Even if your insurance does not cover sealants, sealants are the way to go as far as prevention. Keep in mind that filling cavities costs more than preventing them. Cavities may result in pain, root canal, cap or even extraction. Dentures could ultimately cost more than “saving” your teeth. Insurance does not really care about your oral health. Also, dentures, especially lower ones are often unsuccessful, which then requires implants. Implants are very costly. Keep in mind that age does not play a role in decay rate decrease. Fillings have no effect on decay-causing bacteria and hence do not reduce the risk of having more cavities.