Dental sealants are thin coatings that go over molars, or teeth with deep grooves, to protect the teeth from cavities. Dental sealants are typically used for kids who just get their adult molars in to keep tooth decay from affecting permanent teeth, but sealants can also be used for adults too.
Made from a type of liquid plastic, dental sealants essentially seal out bacteria and plaque while keeping teeth safe and healthy. Dental sealants are considered to be a safe and effective form of preventative dentistry for kids and people who are at high risk for tooth decay.
How exactly do dental sealants work, and what are the benefits for kids? Here’s what you need to know about dental sealants!
How Dental Sealants Work
Applying dental sealants doesn’t take long and is a painless procedure that your dentist in Asheville can complete in-office in just a few minutes. First, the dentist will clean the teeth to ensure no plaque or debris will affect the bonding process of the sealant to the tooth.
Next, the dentist will use a solution to prepare the surface of the tooth for bonding the sealant. This solution is used to roughen the surface of the tooth, creating a surface that the sealant material can more easily bond to. Then, the dentist will paint the sealant material over the teeth, sealing out bacteria and plaque from the deep grooves where decay often starts.
Finally, the dentist will harden the sealant using a special light. Once the material has been cured, your child can eat or drink as normal upon leaving the dentist office.
The Benefits of Dental Sealants
Now that you’ve seen how dental sealants work to protect teeth, here are a few of the most important benefits of sealants for kids.
Help Prevent Tooth Decay
The main purposes of dental sealants and their primary benefit is that they help prevent tooth decay.
Tooth decay is most common on the surfaces of teeth that have deep grooves such as molars and pre-molars. These deep grooves in the tooth are difficult, if not impossible, to properly clean with a toothbrush, especially for children who are still developing their dental habits. In addition, molars are often difficult for young children to properly reach when brushing due to their position in the mouth.
With dental sealants, you can help reduce your child’s risk of cavities by up to 80% by sealing out plaque, bacteria, and acids from food and drinks that can cause decay. Although your child will still need to brush and floss their teeth, dental sealants act as an extra layer of protection to keep teeth free from decay.
Reduce the Need for Restorative Dentistry
When your child gets a cavity, not only do they have to deal with the tooth sensitivity or toothache of deep decay, but they also need a filling or even an extraction or root canal therapy to fix the problem.
With dental sealants, you can avoid decay on at-risk teeth, which prevents the need for restorative dentistry such as a filling, root canal, or extraction of an adult tooth, which would require a tooth replacement.
The result is better oral health for your child, money saved for parents, and reduced discomfort for children and inconvenience for parents for having to go through additional dental procedures to repair their smile.
Support Overall Dental Health
Dental sealants can help support your child’s overall dental health. Since they seal out plaque and bacteria from harming your child’s teeth, dental sealants can help prevent the discomfort that can come with tooth sensitivity and decay, supporting a healthier, pain-free smile.
Since dental sealants are applied when children are still quite young, they can protect teeth while your little ones are developing proper oral care habits. Although very successful at prevent cavities, dental sealants should never replace regular oral care, such as brushing and flossing, or regular dental check-ups, getting professional cleanings, and using fluoride.
Dental sealants also aren’t a substitute for healthy eating. Eating healthy foods can nourish teeth and help prevent decay on teeth that aren’t sealed.
Dental sealants can last for years before wearing away, and the best part is that your Asheville dentist can touch-up dental sealants over time to help them maintain their layer of protection over your child’s teeth. With proper care, dental sealants can last for up to 10 years.
This means that with a simple dental procedure and regular dental visits, your children can have a dramatically reduced risk of tooth decay.
Typically Covered by Insurance
Dental sealants are also often covered by insurance companies, so if your children are covered under a dental insurance policy, your insurance company may cover dental implants, or pay for the majority of the procedure. With this type of coverage, your children can have their teeth protected at little or no cost to you.
Who Qualifies for Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are most common in children who are just getting their adult molars in. The first molars come in around age six or seven while the second molars come in around age 12 or 13. Wisdom teeth, or the third molars, should also be sealed if they don’t need to be extracted, and they won’t appear until around age 17 and sometimes even as late as age 21.
As soon as their adult molars come in, children can get dental sealants. Dental sealants are only used on teeth that are most at risk for decay, which are the molars and pre-molars.
Adults can also get dental sealants. Adults who are at high risk for tooth decay can benefit from dental sealants to keep decay away and protect their teeth. However, as we age, the grooves in teeth are less prominent, which is why dental sealants are so beneficial for children and less common for adults.
Find Out More With a Consultation
If you haven’t opted for dental sealants for your children yet, this preventative dentistry option could help your children avoid tooth decay and protect their teeth. Contact Saunders DDS today to schedule a consultation and learn more about dental sealants. Call us at (828) 277-6060 or use our contact form online to request an appointment.