Brushing and flossing can effectively clean plaque and food particles from the smooth surfaces of teeth. Unfortunately, a toothbrush isn’t always able to access the nooks and crannies within every single tooth. Dental sealants can provide an extra layer of protection to safeguard these areas. Here’s what you should know about tooth sealants.
What Are Sealants for Teeth?
Dental sealants are thin, plastic coatings that are painted over the surface of a tooth. Typically applied to molars and premolars, sealants are able to quickly bond to the tooth, filling grooves and depressions that are more likely to accumulate plaque. In essence, this forms a protective shield over the tooth, sealing out food and bacteria.
Why Have Dental Sealants?
While routine brushing and flossing provide the best defenses against tooth decay, they aren’t as effective on the molars, which tend to have deeper depressions. Molars tend to be popular hiding places for bacteria, which thrive on rough, uneven terrain. Sealants can protect these vulnerable areas by providing another layer of protection. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), dental sealants are so effective, they can prevent 80 percent of cavities in the rear teeth. That’s a significant figure, when you consider that 9 in 10 cavities occur in the molars.
How Long Do Dental Sealants Last?
The typical sealant can lasts up to a decade; however, it will need to be evaluated at regular dental check-ups to ensure that it hasn’t become worn or chipped. Your local dentist can repair damaged sealant by applying more sealant material.
How Much Do Dental Sealants Cost?
According to the American Dental Association, sealants usually cost between $30 and $40 per tooth; however, the costs can be a bit higher in large metropolitan areas.
Who Should Have Dental Sealants
While anyone can benefit from dental sealants, they are especially useful for children, who don’t always practice perfect dental hygiene. According to the CDC, school-age children without dental sealants get nearly 300 percent more cavities than children who have sealants.
In most cases, a child should get sealants as soon as their permanent molars and premolars come in. This way, they can enjoy added protection during the cavity-prone age period of 6 to 14. In some cases, dental sealants can also be used on baby teeth, especially when they contain substantial grooves and depressions. Since baby teeth are critical for holding correct spacing for adult teeth, it’s always a good idea to maintain them as long as possible.
If you would like to know if you or your child can benefit from dental sealants, ask your dentist for an evaluation. You should also check with your insurance provider to see if sealants are covered as a part of your individual plan.