The American Dental Association reports that dental sealants can reduce the risk of tooth decay in molars by almost 80%. So when it comes to dental health, individuals should consider dental sealants in addition to routine exams and cleanings. Usually, dental sealants are an excellent way to prevent cavities in children and teens’ teeth, but adults can also take advantage of this painless procedure.
What Are Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are applied in liquid form over both molars and pre-molars. Dental sealants are made up of a thin, clear plastic, and once they harden, patients never even know they are there. All you will feel is the clean, smooth surface of your tooth.
Even though you can’t tell that the sealants are there, the special coating provides a barrier that stops food and bacteria from getting stuck in the crevices of teeth and causing cavities. Even with faithful brushing and flossing, it isn't possible to clean out every nook and cranny, which is why dental sealants are still beneficial to those who follow the best oral hygiene practices.
When Is the Best Time to Get Sealants?
Children should get sealants as soon as their molars erupt, generally around the age of six and again around age 12. It is also a good idea to return to the dentist once your wisdom teeth arrive, as these teeth are especially hard to reach and clean properly.
Adults who've never had sealants can request them at any time, so long as the teeth in question do not already have cavities or fillings. Dental sealants typically last around 10 years, so have your dentist keep an eye on your teeth to determine when a new set of sealants is needed.
How Are Sealants Applied?
Since the dental sealant procedure is painless, there is no need for novocaine or any type of anesthetic. The dentist or their hygienist will thoroughly clean the molars to prepare them for the sealants. Next, an acidic gel is applied to the teeth for a few minutes before being rinsed off. This gel will help the sealants bond to your teeth by roughing up the surface of each tooth.
After the dentist dries your teeth, he or she will paint on the sealant and use a special blue light to harden the plastic surrounding your teeth. The entire procedure only takes a few minutes, so you won't even have to hold your mouth open that long.
How Do I Care for the Sealants?
Once the sealants are properly placed, patients can eat and drink as they normally would immediately after leaving the dentist's office. Of course, there are a few things patients can do to keep their sealants intact.
Avoid any sticky sweets, such as gummy candies, caramels, Fruit Roll-Ups, and chewing gum. Patients will also benefit by staying away from hard-to-chew items, like ice chips, jawbreakers, peanut brittle, and other hard candies.
Your dentist should also check your sealants for any chipping at your regular check-ups and replace them as needed.
Will My Insurance Cover Sealants?
Most insurances cover the cost of sealants for children. Adults, on the other hand, may have to pay out of pocket depending on the type of dental plan they carry. You'll need to check with your provider before making an appointment with the dentist. If the procedure is not covered, you can expect to pay anywhere from $35 to $60 per tooth.
If you'd like more information on dental sealants, contactus at the dental office of Kenneth M. Schweizer, DDS, PA. Our team is fluent in multiple languages and our office is designed to promote a relaxing atmosphere for your ultimate comfort.