In addition to good brushing and flossing, dental sealants have been shown to be an effective preventative treatment to protect children against tooth decay. Data has shown that approximately 1 in 5 children have untreated tooth decay by the age of 19. Most of this decay can be prevented by placing dental sealants.
Dental sealants are thin coatings that are applied to the chewing surfaces of molar teeth that help to fill in the grooves and protect from bacteria that cause decay. Molars are rough and uneven, creating prime areas for decay to start because food and bacteria can remain trapped. Even with good brushing habits, it can be difficult for children to clean these areas out properly. Sealants have been shown to reduce the risk of decay by nearly 80% in molars.
What is a sealant?
Usually made of resin, sealants are either white or clear coatings that adhere to the chewing surfaces of the teeth to make them resistant to decay.
Who should get sealants?
Anyone can get a sealant. However, children and teenagers are the best candidates since their molars are just erupting. Sealants should be placed as soon as the premolars and molars have erupted, ensuring maximum protection during the adolescence.
How are sealants applied?
Sealants are applied in a quick and painless procedure. The teeth are first cleaned and dried. Usually, a gel or liquid is applied and then rinsed off to etch and roughen up the surface to help the sealant bond to the tooth. The sealant material is painted onto the enamel of the tooth and then hardened with a curing light or allowed to set on its own.
What are the risks?
With the exception of an allergy, there are no known side effects. The bite may feel different initially but usually goes away shortly after placement.
Are sealants covered by dental plans?
Sealants are considered a preventative treatment and are usually fully covered by dental plans for children.