Has your dentist suggested dental sealants for you or your child? Dental sealants have become a popular form of preventative dentistry. They have proven effective in fighting cavities, especially in children.
But what exactly are dental sealants? And how do you decide if they are the right choice for you or your kids?
What Are Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are made of a durable, liquid resin – or plastic. A dentist will apply them to your teeth like paint. When the liquid dries, it will form a hard coating. This covering will seal your teeth and prevent the acids that cause decay from burrowing into them and causing cavities.
Teeth are rough, with bumps and indentations (“pits”) that help to bite and chew food. People with very deep crevasses can have a harder time cleaning their teeth during brushing. It may be more difficult to get to all the food that gets stuck there. This can make them more susceptible to getting cavities. This is especially true for children, who are still learning proper brushing habits. When dental sealants are applied, they fill in some of the fissures, making it harder for decay to get in.
Why Would My Dentist Suggest Dental Sealants?
Dentists will sometimes recommend sealants to anyone who may need extra help preventing cavities. There are several ways to help avoid cavities. Good oral hygiene that includes thorough brushing and flossing are very important. So are regular checkups by a dentist. Proper nutrition can also play a part. But there is still no guarantee that you will not get cavities. Sealants can offer more protection.
Dental sealants are frequently recommended for children. Young children sometimes have trouble brushing properly, especially their back teeth. Sealants can help keep them cavity-free. A child’s adult molars start to come in at about age six. This is a common time to get sealants.
What is it Like to Get Sealants?
Your appointment at the dentist to have sealants put on your teeth will start with a thorough dental exam and cleaning. X-rays may be taken to assure that there are no cavities already in your teeth. The dentist will paint on the sealant and wait for it to dry. He may use a special instrument to help speed up the drying process.
Once you have sealants on your teeth, it may take a few days to get used to them. Biting and chewing will feel different, but after a while, they will barely know they are there.
Having dental sealants applied to your teeth is safe and painless. It may be a challenge for some children to sit still through the process, but most dentists will know how to put them at ease. You can read about the procedure in the article What to Expect When Getting Dental Sealants.
Even with sealants, you will still need to practice good oral hygiene and see a dentist for regular checkups. Sealants will typically last about ten years. Your dentist will be able to tell how they are holding up.
Do They Work?
Sealants are popular because they are effective. Both the American Dental Association and the Centers for Disease Control have collected data that shows a reduction in cavities for children that have dental sealants. If you or your child are cavity prone, it may be worth the time and cost to get sealants. More information about their success in preventing cavities can be found in the article Do Sealants Really Protect Your Teeth?
You may have concerns about the cost. But without sealants, you may have several cavities over the ten-year period that they will last. Having those cavities filled will cost more than the average one-time cost of dental sealants. For many cavity-prone people, dental sealants are worth the price.
Are Sealants Right for Me or My Child?
When deciding if dental sealants are right for you or your child, you will want to investigate all the factors involved. To help with your decision, The Pros and Cons of Dental Sealants explores the common questions and concerns that people have about dental sealants.
Everyone’s situation is different, so you will need to evaluate your particular case. Armed with this knowledge, you will be better able to choose if dental sealants are right for your family.
When you are ready to get sealants, or if you have more questions, use our online tool to find a dentist near you.