How Long Do Dental Sealants Last? And Are They Worth It?

How Long Do Dental Sealants Last? And Are They Worth It?

Dental sealants provide a preventive measure, offering an additional layer of protection for teeth against cavities and decay. But how long can a patient count on dental sealants to stay effective? Learn about the durability of dental sealants, the factors that influence their longevity, and how a patient can ensure their optimal performance.

What are Dental Sealants?

Dental sealants are thin, protective coatings applied to surfaces of molars and premolars. Composed of a plastic material, they create a barrier that seals off the deep grooves and crevices of the teeth, preventing food particles and bacteria from settling in and causing cavities. Sealants are applied using a non-invasive and painless procedure, making them an ideal solution for children and adults alike.

How Much Does a Dental Sealant Cost?

Dental sealants cost about $30 to $50 per tooth, which is less than having a cavity filled. Filling a cavity can cost anywhere from $150 to $1,100 depending on the severity of the cavity and the type of material used. So, getting dental sealants can save a lot of money for patients down the road. 

How Long Do Dental Sealants Last?

According to the CDC, sealants protect against 80% of cavities for 2 years and continue to protect against 50% of cavities for up to 4 years. Some can last for up to 10 years. The duration varies based on individual factors, oral hygiene practices, and the specific type of sealant used. Some patients might experience sealants lasting even longer, while others may require reapplication sooner. It’s essential to keep track of the lifespan of dental sealants to ensure teeth remain protected.

Factors Affecting Lifespan of Dental Sealants 

Different lifestyles and habits can affect how long dental sealants last, such as: 

Oral Hygiene

Proper oral hygiene plays a significant role in extending the life of dental sealants. Regular brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash help maintain the integrity of the sealant and prevent bacterial buildup. Patients are encouraged to take care of their dental sealants the same way they take care of their natural teeth. 

Chewing Habits

Bruxism, known as teeth grinding, and the consumption of hard or sticky foods can wear down the sealant over time. If a patient has bruxism, they should consult their dentist for solutions like a mouthguard to protect the sealants. Most dentists are able to mold customized mouthguards for their patients so the fit is optimal and as comfortable as possible. 

Quality of Application

The skill and expertise of the dentist or hygienist during the application process impact the sealant’s longevity. A well-placed sealant ensures better protection and adherence to the tooth’s surface. 

Sealant Material

There are different types of dental sealants available, including resin-based and glass ionomer sealants. Resin-based sealants are more commonly used due to their longer-lasting properties.

Age of Sealants

Over time, dental sealants might naturally wear down due to daily wear and tear. Regular dental check-ups can help detect any issues with the sealants and prompt timely reapplication if needed.

Maintaining and Extending the Lifespan of Dental Sealants

To extend the life of dental sealants, patients should follow best practices for maintaining them.

Follow Dental Recommendations: Regular dental visits allow the dentist to monitor the condition of dental sealants and identify any signs of wear or damage.

Avoid Bad Habits: Refrain from chewing on hard objects like ice, as this can damage the sealants.

Practice Good Oral Hygiene: Brush teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss daily, and use mouthwash to maintain oral health and prolong the life of dental sealants.

Wear Protective Mouthguards: If a patient engages in contact sports or grinds their teeth often, they should wear a custom-fitted mouthguard to protect teeth and sealants.

Can You Eat After Dental Sealants?

Patients can eat, drink, and go on with their regular daily actions immediately after a dental sealant procedure. The feeling of biting down will be somewhat new, but the new sealant should not cause any pain or sensitivity. It is best to avoid foods that are sticky, hard, or chewy like candy. 

Are Dental Sealants Painful?

Because this procedure is non-invasive and simple, there is no pain during or after a dental sealant. Some discomfort may occur as the patient is becoming accustomed to their sealant, but that goes away within about 3 days. If any pain arises, there may be a deeper and more serious issue. 

dental patient happy with her dental sealants
Image by NeonShot by

What are the Disadvantages of Sealants?

Sealants can eliminate the need for expensive and invasive treatments like dental fillings or crowns, and are especially effective for children as they are still learning good dental hygiene practices. Although simple and effective, there are pros and cons to dental sealants, including the following disadvantages: 

  • They are only preventative. When there is a bigger issue like a cavity, even with a sealant the cavity will need to be addressed. 
  • It is rare, but sometimes a sealant is sealed in a decaying tooth where a cavity is actively forming. While this almost never happens, it is a popular question patients ask and worth noting. 
  • Sealants are temporary. While they can last for up to 10 years, some patients’ teeth are more prone to decay and will get cavities anyway. Patients like this prefer to have cavities filled as opposed to getting sealants that don’t last forever. 

Dental Sealants are Worth it

Dental sealants serve as an effective shield against cavities, especially for the vulnerable chewing surfaces of molars and premolars. With proper care and maintenance, dental sealants can last for several years, providing long-lasting protection for teeth. Regular dental check-ups and adherence to good oral hygiene practices are important to the condition of sealants and ensure their optimal performance, allowing the maintenance of a healthy and cavity-free smile. If you think dental sealants are right for you make a dental appointment with a professional at Dental Health Society today.