What are Sealants?

In addition to brushing and flossing sealants act as another line of defense against cavities. Our molar teeth have tiny grooves and pits on the chewing surface, that are so small they can’t even be cleaned with a

Molar tooth before a sealant has been placed.

toothbrush bristle. Bacteria gather easily in these small groves and make it easy for cavities to form.  

To prevent the bacteria from penetrating into these small groves, we cover them with sealants. When applied correctly sealants can prevent 80% of cavities for up to 2 years and continue to prevent 50% of cavities for up to 4 years. Sealants are usually indicated in childhood, first when the six year molars erupt and then when the 12 year molars erupt. Soon after the permanent molars erupt adding a sealant can ensure they stay cavity free for a longer period of time. Getting sealants is a painless and typically quick process, so long as the teeth are able to be kept dry during the procedure. The process for sealants is as follows:

  • Etch teeth, this cleans and roughens the tooth surface to prepare for a sealant.
  • Rinse & dry teeth thoroughly 
  • Apply sealant material and spread evenly through pits and grooves
  • Cure (harden) with a UV light for 30 seconds
  • Done! That’s it, quick and pain free! 
Molar tooth after a sealant has been placed. Grooves are filled in.

Many insurance companies will usually cover sealants up to a certain age limit. Our office is happy to check your insurance coverage for this. Sealants will typically last for several years before they may need to be reapplied. Even if you are past the age limit for coverage, you may want to consider paying out of pocket to have them reapplied. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! The out of pocket cost for sealants, even without insurance, is often cheaper than the cost of a filling if decay begins. 

At your regular dental visits, your dentist will evaluate if sealants are recommended for you! As always, let us know if you have any questions regarding the sealants process or your possible insurance coverage. 

References

Mouth Healthy by ADA
https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/s/sealants

CDC
https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/dental_sealant_program/sealants-FAQ.htm

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