Brushing and flossing your teeth go a long way toward preventing tooth decay and cavities, but they can’t always remove every bit of food and plaque from your teeth.1 Eating healthy also helps, but there’s more you can do to promote good dental health. Dental sealants consist of a thin, clear plastic coating that covers the surfaces of your teeth. Learn why both children and adults can benefit from having teeth sealed.
- They essentially serve as barriers that protect teeth from bacteria and cover areas that brushing and flossing can’t get to, such as parts of the teeth with grooved areas.
- Dental sealants bond quickly into each groove and depression that they cover, effectively protecting the enamel and sealing out plaque.
- Sealants are especially helpful for teeth like molars that are involved in chewing and are hard to reach. These teeth may encounter tougher foods, and the extra protection from sealants can help keep them strong.2
Why are dental sealants used?
Dental sealants help stop cavities and tooth decay before they happen and are used as a preventive measure. Children and adults should still keep good habits, from flossing and brushing to eating healthy food, regardless of whether they have dental sealant applied at a dentist appointment. When paired with these healthy practices, sealants take the extra step to protect teeth from cavities.3
Sealants may be beneficial if you have other health considerations that may cause your teeth to be more vulnerable to tooth decay. For instance, medications you’re taking can impact your oral health and cause your teeth to be more likely to lead to cavities. Antacids, antidepressants, and high blood pressure medications can also cause gum disease, oral thrush, or dry mouth, which leads to poor dental health.
If you’re on any of these medications and have concerns that they are harming your oral health, check with your dentist to learn whether dental sealants can give your teeth the added protection they need.
Who needs sealants?
Sealants are important for people of all ages. Children and teenagers should get sealants while their teeth are still in good condition. Plaque and food can easily get to these areas, causing the teeth to rot over time.
Parents with children who have deep grooves and depressions in their teeth as babies should consider sealants while their children are young to prevent any future problems. Also, since many dental problems can be hereditary, it is important consider sealants if you have a family history of cavities or tooth decay.
Adults are also good candidates for sealants, as it’s never too late to protect your teeth. As you age, neglecting your teeth can lead to tooth decay, root canals, tooth extractions, or even heart disease. No matter your age, you should also pay attention to the food you eat, as some foods can be damaging to your teeth. For example, it’s especially important to avoid chewing on ice, as this can wear down your tooth enamel and lead to fractures.4
If you don’t already have fillings in your molars or significant tooth decay, talk to your dentist to learn whether sealants are appropriate for you.
How are sealants applied?
Applying dental sealants is a fairly quick and painless process. First, your dentist will clean and dry each tooth having sealant applied to it. Once your teeth are completely dry, your dentist lightly applies sealant onto the enamel of each tooth. There the sealant hardens and bonds right to the tooth. Your dentist will then use a curing light to help the dental sealant dry completely.
Dental sealants typically take a few minutes per tooth. This fast process can save you endless anguish and hundreds of dollars on dental work in the years to come.5
How long do sealants last?
Dental sealants can last for up to 10 years and are often covered in your dental insurance as part of preventive care during your checkup. Your dentist should examine teeth that have had sealant applied to them at each checkup to make sure they still look healthy, since any chips or cracks in the sealant can allow bacteria and plaque to get in.
If you accidentally injure a tooth, be sure to have your dentist fix the tooth right away and reseal it, if necessary, by simply adding more material. Even with sealants, it’s crucial to keep your teeth in good health and follow your dentist’s recommendations for brushing and flossing.6
Taking good care of your teeth is important, as you’ll prevent countless dental problems down the road. Children and adults alike can protect their teeth with sealants, so talk with your dentist to learn whether you’re a good candidate for this quick and easy procedure.
Keep in mind that many dental insurance policies cover at least part if not all of the procedure, which means having your teeth sealed could be one of the most important and affordable measures you could take to protect the health of your teeth.
Links to external sites are provided for your convenience in locating related information and services. Guardian, its subsidiaries, agents and employees expressly disclaim any responsibility for and do not maintain, control, recommend, or endorse third-party sites, organizations, products, or services and make no representation as to the completeness, suitability, or quality thereof.