Proper dental hygiene such as brushing and flossing are the best ways to prevent cavities and tooth decay; however, we’re not always perfect. Many of us miss the occasional tooth brushing and a lot of us don’t floss every day. Dental sealants are a great safety net to help keep our teeth protected from cavities and tooth decay. In fact dental sealants have been shown to reduce the risk of decay by 80% when applied to the molars.
What Are Dental Sealants
Dental sealants are thin, protective coatings, made from plastic or other dental materials, that are placed on the chewing surface of the molars to protect them from cavities and decay. With dental sealants, the bacteria and acid that create cavities, are kept from settling on your teeth.
Where Are Dental Sealants Usually Placed?
Dental sealants are mainly placed on the back molars and premolars. This is because molars are rough and uneven making them difficult to brush and floss as well as making them a favorite place for leftover food and cavity causing bacteria to hide.
Who Should Get Sealants?
Children and teens are the best candidates for dental sealants because the sealants can protect their teeth during the most cavity prone years of age, 6-14. In 2016, the CDC released a report in favor of dental sealants for school ages children. According to this report, school-aged children without sealants have almost three times more cavities than children with sealants; however, dental sealants are still underutilized. Only 43% of children ages 6-11 have dental sealants.
Adults without decay or fillings in their molars can also benefit from sealants; however, adults aren’t as prone to cavities in general which is why sealants are mostly recommended for children and teens.
How Long Do Sealants Last?
Sealants can protect teeth for up to 10 years however they need to be checked at regular dental appointments to make sure they are not chipping or haven’t worn away. If you want your sealant to last for 10 years or more you need to keep good oral hygiene habits (bushing, flossing, using quality mouthwash) and have a good diet (avoid sugary items, avoid chewing on hard substances).
Dental Sealant Process
Dental sealants are a quick and painless procedure that can be done at your next cleaning. The dentist will clean and dry your tooth then place an acid gel on the tooth. This gel helps your tooth surface form a strong bond with the sealant. Then your dentist will rinse off the gel and dry your tooth again before applying the sealant onto the grooves of your tooth. Lastly, your dentist will then use a special blue light to harden the sealant.
Does Insurance Cover The Cost Of Sealants?
Many insurance companies cover the cost of sealants for children under 18 years old. Check with your dental insurance to see if they cover sealants and if there is a cut off age.
If you are prone to cavities or want an extra line of defense when it come to decay, talk to your dentist about dental sealants at your next teeth cleaning. To schedule an appointment with on of our dentists give us a call at 202-509-0801 or fill out our online contact form.