From an early age, we are taught that the best ways to care for our teeth and gums include twice-daily brushing using fluoride toothpaste, flossing, avoiding sugary foods and beverages, and visiting your dentist regularly. But dental sealants can provide an extra layer of protection from decay-causing bacteria.
What Are Dental Sealants?
Molars are the rear teeth used for chewing, and their many pits and fissures (the technical terms for nooks and crannies) make it difficult to remove all traces of food and plaque with just a traditional or electric toothbrush. But when sealants are applied over the tops of molars, they can prevent bacteria from settling into the grooves.
Dental sealants shield molars with a thin, protective coating. Sealants are composed of resin and have a plastic-like texture that adheres to the surface of the teeth.
But are sealants effective in protecting against tooth decay? A report issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) showed that sealants can decrease the risk of molar tooth decay by nearly 80%.  The report also declared that children who do not have sealants have nearly three times as many cavities as children who do have sealants. 
How Are Sealants Applied?
The application of sealants is completely painless. Here’s what to expect during the process:
- Your dentist will first clean and dry the tooth areas that will receive the sealant application.
- A gel that roughens the surface of your tooth is applied next. Roughing up the surface will make it easier for the sealant to adhere to the tooth. The gel will remain on your tooth for only a few seconds before the dentist rinses it off.
- After drying the tooth again, the dentist will apply the sealant. It’s somewhat runny, which helps it to spread throughout all of the grooves in the tooth.
- Finally, your dentist will use a dental wand that emits blue light to harden the sealant.
At What Age Should Sealants Be Applied?
People of any age can benefit from dental sealants. But for preventive purposes, it makes the most sense to start early. You can add extra cavity prevention for your children if they have their molars sealed as soon as they erupt – around age 6 for first molars and age 12 for second molars.
Should You Change Your Brushing Routine After Sealants Are Applied?
Keep in mind that sealants are just an extra measure of protection. You must continue to thoroughly brush and floss your teeth twice a day. And since sealants cover only the top of the molar, you’ll still have to pay close attention to the gum line, where bacteria can accumulate.
Are Dental Sealants Covered By Insurance?
Many insurance companies will cover sealants for patients 18 years or younger since it’s an effective preventive treatment. Contact your insurance representative to determine your level of coverage. But even without insurance, sealants are an inexpensive way to provide another layer of protection against tooth decay.
Do Sealants Ever Need to Be Replaced?
The plastic resin material is very strong, so it’s unlikely that the sealant will chip. Sealants should last for many years but will eventually need to be reapplied. Your dentist will monitor their condition during your regular visit.
Give Your Child Better Cavity Protection with Dental Sealants
Improve your child’s cavity defense with dental sealants. Application is quick and painless, and it’s one of the best investments you can make for your child’s oral health without having to spend a lot of money. Another smart investment you can make is to work with a dental practice that uses the most advanced techniques and is committed to providing the highest level of expert service.
At Empire Dental Care, the team led by Dr. Tehila Cohen is dedicated to making patients feel confident about the care they’re receiving and comfortable in the practice’s warm and inviting space. To schedule an appointment or a consultation, contact us here or call (585) 671-1650.