Dental Sealants – All you need to know
Dental sealants protect your teeth against cavities. Dental cavities are one of the most common dental problems. Dental cavities are caused by bacteria that form when food accumulates on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth – the molars and premolars. The best dental sealants from Heritage Trace Dental will guarantee a beautiful smile!
What are dental sealants?
As mentioned previously, dental sealants are a way to protect your teeth from decay and subsequent dental cavities. They are a plastic coating that is applied to the chewing surfaces of your premolars and molars (where the decay occurs most often) so that the acid produced by bacteria cannot corrode the surface of your teeth. Sealants effectively ‘seal off’ your teeth from bacterial attack.
While a thorough brushing and regular flossing will be able to clean your teeth and remove food particles from the smooth surfaces of the teeth, the bristles of the bushes cannot reach into the grooves and depressions of the back teeth. This causes the food particles to accumulate in these grooves and ultimately cause tooth decay.
Dental sealants prevent teeth from ever decaying whereas dental fillings are a remedy for teeth in the process of decay. Tooth decay and dental cavities permanently damage the teeth and even though a dental cavity is usually filled with a dental filling, they are not permanent. The drilling needed to apply the dental fillings will weaken the teeth further. Thus, dentists recommend dental sealants.
How are sealants applied?
Dental sealants are very easy to apply and take anywhere from 5 to 45 minutes depending on the number of teeth needed to be sealed. The process is painless and you can eat within 2 hours of the procedure. You will also feel no discomfort or pain after the procedure.
- The teeth are cleaned to remove any residual food particles. This process also lets the dentist know if the teeth are already damaged from bacteria and whether you need further dental care.
- The tooth is dried and cotton is put around the teeth to keep it dry.
- The grooves and depressions are then roughened up with an acidic solution as this will help the sealants to stick to the surface.
- The tooth is dried again and new cotton is placed around it to keep it dry.
- The dentist then paints the sealant onto the tooth and will harden naturally and bond with your teeth. Sometimes a special curing light is needed to harden the sealant quickly.
Who should get dental sealants?
Children are always advised to get a dental sealant when they have new permanent teeth. They benefit most from the dental sealant as they do not have to deal with decaying in the future. But it is a common misconception that dental sealants are for children only. Since decay can begin at an early stage, dentists usually ask children to get a sealant to prevent tooth decay. But sealants can be applied to adults’ teeth as well.
How long will sealants last?
Sealants are able to withstand the normal force of chewing and will not dissolve from saliva. Sealants will also not come off with regular brushing or from using fluoride toothpaste. The sealant also does not come off like dental fillings as the sealant bonds itself with the tooth surface. Sealants usually last for a long time before they need to be reapplied. A sealant can last for as long as 5 to 10 years. When you go for a regular dental check-up, the dentists will assess the condition of the sealant and will reapply if necessary.
Are dental sealants covered under medical insurance?
Previously, sealants were not covered under medical insurance, but now more and more companies are beginning to understand that sealants are a proven preventive technique and are including it under insurance benefits. Ask your insurance company if they cover dental sealants.
Dental sealants decrease the chance of decay if you reapply the sealants regularly. Clinical studies have shown that teeth that have lost sealants are no more susceptible to tooth decay than teeth that were never sealed. If you are worried that the sealant will be visible when you smile or talk, don’t be. Sealants are usually white and can only be seen up close. If you want to know more about dental sealants and how it can help you, please give us a call or schedule an appointment with us.