Dental sealant is a thin, plastic coating painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth — usually the back teeth (the premolars and molars) — to prevent tooth decay. The sealant quickly bonds into the depressions and grooves of the teeth, forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth.
Although thorough brushing and flossing can remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth, they cannot always get into all the nooks and crannies of the back teeth to remove the food and plaque. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas from tooth decay by “sealing out” plaque and food.
Who Should Get Sealants?
Sealants are typically applied to children’s teeth after their permanent teeth have erupted as a preventive measure against tooth decay. However, adults can also receive sealants on healthy teeth. It is more common to seal permanent teeth rather than baby teeth, but every patient has unique needs, and your dentist will recommend sealants on a case-by-case basis.
How Are Sealants Applied?
It’s a quick and painless process. Your dentist will clean and dry your tooth before placing an acidic gel on your teeth. This gel roughs up your tooth surface so a strong bond will form between your tooth and the sealant. After a few seconds, your dentist will rinse off the gel and dry your tooth once again before applying the sealant onto the grooves of your tooth. Your dentist will then use a special blue light to harden the sealant.
How Long Do Sealants Last?
Sealants can protect teeth from decay for up to 10 years, but they need to be checked for chipping or wearing at regular dental check-ups. During your regular dental visit, your dentist will check the condition of the sealant and can reapply them as needed.
Does Insurance Cover the Cost of Sealants?
Many insurance companies cover the cost of sealants. Check with your dental insurance carrier to determine if sealants are covered under your plan.