Sealants are plastic protective coats “painted” over the permanent molars in order to prevent cavities from developing. They fill in any grooves or areas in the teeth that are susceptible to tooth decay. Even though thorough flossing and brushing can clear food particles and plaque away from the teeth, it's often nearly impossible to get into the nooks and crannies of the pre-molars or molars. As they continue to stay there, the food particles will begin to decompose. The bacteria present in the mouth turns the residual sugars into acid, which then attack the enamel.
What are the Benefits of Dental Sealants?
Quick and Easy Application: Applying a dental sealant is quick and convenient. Applying dental sealants is a painless and straightforward process. It only takes a few seconds for a dentist to apply a sealant on each tooth. While these can protect teeth from cavities, they need to be examined for wearing or chipping at regular dental checkups. The dentist can replace dental sealants as needed. Further, it is likely for decay to get beneath the sealant as it begins to wear away.
Immediate Effects: Another benefit to dental sealants is how quickly you can see the results. Once they're applied, they immediately take effect. There's no need to wait for it or undergo other procedures before they show their efficacy. Once they're there, they begin to do their job. No grace period to wait for, no restrictions to follow succeeding the procedure. Moreover, it shows consistent results—a dental sealant will continue to seal out food particles until it begins to break down, which takes many years after.
Affordable and Durable: Don't you hate it when you spend so much money on something, only to have it lose effect quickly afterward? Fortunately, dental sealants are the exact opposite. Because you place them in specific areas only, they don't cost as much as other treatments. The materials used are also relatively affordable, driving the price down further. (Sealants for kids are also usually covered by your dental insurance!) And it doesn't just stop at affordability. With proper oral hygiene, dental sealants typically last you a good portion of your life. Some sealants can reach up to several years with the appropriate care before you'll need to have it reapplied again. Talk about bang for your buck!
Are Dental Sealants and Dental Fillings the Same?
Just like how potholes are filled with cement, dental sealants fill and bind to the tooth, ensuring a smooth, less cavity-prone surface. In that sense, some may confuse dental sealants with dental fillings. But while the two may seem similar, they're different as they can be.
- A dental filling fills in the cracks or cavities caused by tooth decay. It's for this reason the materials used in fillings are a little more durable, such as metal. Because dentists apply them on teeth affected by tooth decay, the tooth's natural structure has already been compromised.
- A dental sealant, on the other hand, prevents the cavity from happening in the first place. Plastic resin is the material of choice in its composition, as it not only flexible enough to fit the fissure but also expels any bacterial liquids that threaten to enter. They also let the tooth retain its natural form and integrity.
Who are the Best Candidates for Dental Sealants?
Children and teens are typical candidates for dental sealants. These groups often have a higher possibility of developing dental caries in the grooves and depressions of the back of the teeth. Specifically, those ages six to 14 are a good target for sealants. But adults who do not have fillings in their molars may also find sealants advantageous.
Usually, children should get dental sealants on their pre-molars and molars right after these teeth erupt. In some cases, sealants are also appropriate for baby teeth. Since baby teeth are essential prior to developing permanent teeth, it is valuable to keep these teeth in good condition to avoid early tooth loss.
Even children who have reasonably good oral hygiene habits and a healthy, nutritious diet would benefit very well from sealants.
It's important to note that children ages 6 to 14 are the most prone to cavity development. While adults can also benefit from sealants, children are especially in need of dental sealants.
How Long Do Dental Sealants Last?
Sealants can last up to ten years before requiring a replacement application. Because sealants can become cracked or chipped over time, it’s important to keep up with regular dental checkups/cleanings to ensure the sealants are in top notch condition and are still capable of maintaining their defensive duty.
Are Dental Sealants Necessary for Children?
As a parent, one of the hardest decisions you will ever have to make is deciding whether or not a specific procedure would benefit your child. When it comes to dental sealants, it's safe to say that the protection from this special coating is sure to do its job for your child's teeth. However, sealants are not mandatory but heavily recommended for children of all types of oral standings.
It's important to remember that certain children are more prone to cavity development. If this is your child, strongly consider sealants. When deciding whether or not your child should receive a sealant application, consider all pros and cons. But keep in mind, you may be taking your child to the dentist shortly for a cavity drilling and filling. And trust us, children would much rather have sealants than have a cavity fixed!
Best of all, some dental plans will even cover the entire cost of dental sealants. Even disregarding the cost, keep in mind that sealants are quite necessary for a child's proper oral standing, and are long-lasting. With this in mind, deciding to have a sealant application for your child becomes more comfortable than ever before.