Dental Sealants 101

What are they?

Dental sealants are plastic coatings placed on the chewing surface of the permanent back molars. This is the area where tooth decay most often occurs, and the sealants help “seal out” food particles and plaque that might cause decay.

When should they be placed?

Sealants are usually placed on the first permanent molar as soon as the chewing surface has completely emerged from the gum. Because tooth decay can begin early in life, it is important for children and teenagers to get sealants once their permanent teeth come in. That way, the sealants can protect your child’s teeth throughout the cavity-prone years of 6-14.

What do they look like?

Sealants can be clear, white, or slightly tinted, depending on what type of dental sealant is used.

How are they placed on my child’s teeth?

Placing sealants on teeth is a simple, painless process.

  1. The tooth is thoroughly cleaned by the dentist with paste and a rotating brush.
  2. The tooth is washed and dried. Cotton or another absorbent material will be placed beside the tooth to help keep it dry during the sealant process.
  3. An acidic solution is placed on the tooth for several seconds before being rinsed off. This solution helps the sealant bond to the tooth.
  4. The tooth is rinsed and dried once again.
  5. The dental sealant is painted on the tooth enamel where it will bond with the tooth and harden. Sometimes a dentist may use a special curing light that helps the sealant harden more quickly.

How long do they last?

Dental sealants can last a long time – up to 10 years. However, it is still important to have them checked during your child’s regular check-ups to be sure that none of them have chipped or worn away. If a sealant becomes damaged, it can be removed and replaced with a new one. Most insurance companies cover the cost of sealants, so check with your dental insurance carrier to see if sealants are covered in your plan.

To talk to us about placing sealants on your child’s teeth, schedule an appointment today. We look forward to seeing you!