What is dental sealant?
We all know that oral health activities of brushing, flossing and seeing your dentist twice yearly play a major role in dental condition. By brushing and flossing you remove plaque and food particles from each tooth’s smooth surfaces. But what about those tooth nooks and crannies, such as on the molars in the back of your mouth? In between dental visits and professional cleanings, dental sealant protects the crowns of your back teeth. With this coating applied to your molars, you enjoy less risk of tooth decay.
Your dentist paints the dental sealant onto the chewing surfaces of teeth, those more likely to accumulate food and plaque in small crevices your toothbrush cannot reach. This thin coating is a type of plastic. It bonds into the nooks of your teeth, smoothing these surfaces and acting as a protective shield.
Of course, even with dental sealant, you must always properly brush and floss your teeth. Otherwise, you still risk suffering tooth decay. The plastic coating merely gives you another advantage over plaque, food debris and harmful bacteria that cause cavities.
Who needs dental sealant?
Young people, specifically children and teens, benefit most from the sealants. They experience higher risk for decay in the grooves and crevices of their molars and premolars. But adults can also benefit from this dental service.
The best time to start applying dental sealant to your child’s teeth is as soon as their premolars and molars erupt. Children ages six to 14 are most likely to suffer cavities. So during these ages, you should definitely ask your dentist about protecting your child’s teeth.
Although dentists typically apply this coating to permanent teeth, it also works very well for baby teeth. Some of these early teeth have deep grooves and crevices, too. Since your child’s baby teeth contribute to correct spacing of permanent ones, keeping them healthy is extremely important.
How Does the Dentist Applies Sealant
Sealant only takes a few minutes to apply. Either your dentist or dental hygienist manages this easy and pain-free process. Steps for application include the following:
- Thoroughly clean the teeth
- Dry each tooth by applying cotton or another absorbing material
- Apply an acid solution on each tooth’s chewing surfaces to lightly etch them for a strong bond
- Rinse your teeth and dry them again
- Paint the sealant onto your etched tooth enamel, creating a strong bond
- Allow the sealant to harden or use a special curing light to harden it
How long does sealant stay on the teeth?
Dental sealant lasts for as long as 10 years. During this time, it helps protect your teeth from cavities. But you need to visit your dentist regularly for check-ups and to ensure the sealant has not been chipped or worn away. Your dentist can apply more of the protective coating as is needed.
Will my dental insurance pay for sealant?
Many insurance policies cover sealant cost. But this is typically the case only for patients under the age of 18. When you visit the dentist, ask the administrative staff about your coverage and whether your benefits include this service.
Dental Sealant and Other Tooth Decay Prevention in North Carolina
With two locations in Raleigh and one in Goldsboro, Carolina Dental Arts conveniently provides patients with the highest quality of dental care. This care includes dental sealants for children and adults on an as-needed basis.