Did you know that one of the best ways to protect molars and premolars from tooth decay is through dental sealant treatment? Sealants are thin, plastic coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of those back teeth. These areas are especially vulnerable to tooth decay, because they are deep grooves that can trap food and bacteria.
The material used in this treatment quickly bonds to the grooves and ridges embedded in the chewing surfaces of the teeth, forming a protective barrier that keeps decay-producing bacteria away from tooth surfaces, helping reduce the risk of tooth decay. Studies have shown that sealants can reduce the incidence of cavities by as much as 80%. For this reason, these tooth coatings are often recommended for children and adolescents.
What to Expect
Sealant application is fast and easy. Each tooth is prepared and cleaned thoroughly. Next, a bonding agent is applied to make these thin coatings stick to the tooth. The sealant is then “painted” on each tooth, and allowed to dry and harden, forming a protective bond on the tooth surface.
The process takes approximately 10 minutes and offers about five years of protection. Sealants can be reapplied as they age or show signs of cracking or wear.
Who Should Get Them?
Children around the age of 6, who have gotten their first permanent molars, and teenagers and adults who experience frequent tooth decay, may benefit from sealants.
Is it still essential to brush and floss regularly after sealants are applied?
Yes, these protective coatings aren’t a substitute for practicing optimal oral hygiene.
Are protective sealants permanent?
No, they typically last 5-10 years. If you take care of your teeth and avoid acidic foods, they can last closer to a decade. Otherwise, they may wear away earlier. By coming in for regular visits, your dentist can inspect these tooth coverings and determine whether to reapply sealants or not.
Are protective sealants expensive?
No, on the contrary, this treatment is affordable, especially when you consider how they protect against tooth decay. Most dental insurance companies cover this treatment. Please check with your insurance company about your child’s coverage.
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