Dental sealants are a preventive solution against cavities forming in the back teeth – the most likely area for decay. While they are most often applied to children, adults who do not have cavities or fillings in their molars can also get them. In this post, we explain what sealants are, how they’re applied, and why they’re vital to oral health.
During a sealant procedure, thin plastic coatings that are applied to the grooves on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to protect them from tooth decay. This is where 80 to 90 percent of cavities in permanent back teeth and 44 percent in baby teeth occur.
Dentists recommend applying them as soon as a child’s permanent molars erupt, before they have a chance to decay (the first molars usually erupt when a child is about 6 years old; second molars appear at about age 12). However, anyone who does not have decay or fillings in their back teeth can get sealants.
The placement requires no drilling. In one quick visit, the back teeth are cleaned, prepped with a gel, sealed, and then dried. They are very thin and can only be seen up close.
As long as the patient maintains reasonable health, goes to her check-ups, and avoids accidents, sealants can last up to 10 years. They can also be re-applied if they ever fall out of position or wear down.
The Effectiveness of Sealants
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, sealants make a difference in the number of cavities that develop.
- Sealant placement has shown a reduction of cavities incidence of 86 percent after one year and 58 percent after four years.
- With appropriate follow-up care, the success rate of sealants may be 80-90 percent even after a decade.
How Sealants Can Help Our Patient Families
Preventive dentistry saves dental costs in the long run. Sealants, in particular, are a good bet to save money. They cost less than half of what a filling costs and protect the teeth hit by four out of every five cavities in our children. That’s why we recommend that children should see a pediatric dentist to get sealants. So if you have questions about sealants, or any other dental procedure, contact our office and we’ll happily discuss it with you.