Although following a daily regimen of brushing and flossing is one of the best ways to prevent the development of cavities, reaching the back teeth (molars) can be challenging. The inability to properly clean these teeth often leads to decay, cavities and costly dental procedures. While trying to clean these teeth may seem like a never-ending battle, another safety net is now available to help keep your child’s molars clean and cavity-free, the dental sealant.
Why Are Molars Susceptible to Decay?
To aid in the chewing process, molars have rough, uneven surfaces. Furthermore, there are nooks and crannies on the chewing surface of each molar, which makes cleaning them even more difficult, especially for children. Cavity-causing bacteria hide within these crevices, consuming the leftover debris, multiplying and releasing harmful acid that eats away at the protective coating of the teeth (enamel).
What Are Dental Sealants?
A dental sealant consists of plastic or some other dental material. The sealant is applied to the chewing surfaces of the molars. This sealant is not meant to replace a daily oral hygiene regimen, but, instead, to supplement it. Dental sealants can help prevent cavities by ‘filling-in’ those nooks and crannies where food debris remains, and bacteria hide.
How Does a Dental Sealant Work?
Once the dental sealant is applied, it penetrates the tooth enamel: This ensures that the sealant is firmly attached to the tooth. The grooves of the tooth fill in and the sealant hardens, creating a thin, plastic barrier.
When Should Dental Sealants Be Applied?
Ideally, dental sealants should be applied as soon as the chewing surface of the molar has completely erupted beyond the gum line. When the molars are sealed as they erupt, the likelihood of decay and cavity development is greatly reduced. Typically, the wisdom teeth do not erupt until an individual is at least 17 years of age. Since the wisdom teeth are usually removed, sealing them is not particularly beneficial to the patient.
How Are Dental Sealants Applied?
The application of dental sealants is quick and painless. Prior to applying the sealant, your child’s Woodlane Family Dentist cleans and dries the tooth/teeth being sealed. An acidic gel is placed on the tooth/teeth, which roughens up the surface of the tooth to ensure a strong bond between the tooth and the sealant. Once a couple of seconds have passed, your child’s Woodlane Family Dentist rinses off the gel, dries the tooth/teeth again and ‘paints’ the sealant onto the chewing surfaces of the molars being treated. A special blue light is used to harden the sealant. These sealants usually last for several years.
Will Dental Insurance Cover Sealants?
Most dental insurance companies do cover dental sealants for both primary and permanent teeth. We recommend that you contact your insurance provider to find out if your child is covered.