At our Queen Creek dental office, it is common to see tooth decay which damages teeth permanently. As dental professionals, this concerns us—especially on our youngest patients who may not have developed the best oral hygiene habits yet. Tooth decay can be caused by food particles and germs getting stuck in between and especially in the grooves of a tooth. The most common teeth that are diagnosed with cavities are the back teeth chewing surfaces or the premolar and molars. This area of the mouth is usually difficult to brush and floss so it is prone to issues with decay.
We encourage applying dental sealants to the teeth in this part of the mouth as part of a preventative dental care treatment plan. Sealants form a protective “shield” over the enamel of each tooth to protect teeth from decay. These air tight shields fill in the natural pits or fissures of a tooth, preventing cavities before they start.
Dental sealants act like “raincoats for your teeth,” according to MouthHealthy.org.1 “When the cavity-causing bacteria that live in everyone’s mouth meet leftover food particles, they produce acids that can create holes in teeth. These holes are cavities. After a sealant has been applied, it keeps those bits of food out and stops bacteria and acid from settling on your teeth – just like a raincoat keeps you clean and dry during a storm.”
Children and teenagers are the most common patients to receive dental sealants. Because the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that cavities remain the most common chronic disease of children ages 6-19 years old, our office feels strongly that dental sealants will help prevent cavities before decay has the chance to begin in a tooth. Dental sealants are encouraged to be applied immediately after the adult premolar or molars erupt from the gum line. Adults can also benefit from having sealants placed on their molars if this is a common area of concern. Consulting with your dentist is the best way to decide if dental sealants would be a beneficial preventative treatment option for children, adolescents or adults.
The Research on Dental Sealants
The American Dental Association has recognized that dental sealants are effective and when applied can greatly reduce the risk of tooth decay in the molars or back teeth in children and adolescents. In their published research, it was determined that youth with applied dental sealants have about 70 to 80 percent reduction of cavities due to the sealing of the molar surfaces. There has also been evidence that sealants can stop the progression of existing non-cavity bacteria in the teeth. 2
The Dental Sealant Process
Dental sealants are applied in a general dentist’s office and is usually applied during a routine preventative dental cleaning appointment. After cleaning and drying the tooth, it is then coated with a special gel. Once that gel is dried, the tooth is brushed with a sealant resin that fills the natural pits and fissures in the tooth and quickly bonds to it. The process takes only about 10 minutes per tooth. It is a quick and painless experience because there is no drilling or removal of any part of the tooth structure. Sealants are usually white, clear or can even be slightly tinted the color of the tooth it is being applied on. So when you talk, laugh or smile it will go unnoticed to others around you.
Dental Sealants are Affordable and Effective
The cost and effectiveness of dental sealants is a common topic we discuss with parents. Often, most dental insurances will cover dental sealants at 100% without any out-of-pocket cost to the patients. But sealants are still affordable for those without dental insurance. The cost will vary from $20 to $30 per tooth which is much less expensive than filling a cavity or completing restorative work on a decayed tooth. Dental sealants can last for many years, with 5-10 years being an average time frame. But sealants can wear over time so routine dental cleanings will determine whether there is a need to replace or add material to a sealant.
While there is always a need to maintain healthy habits of brushing and flossing daily, dental sealants give an extra protection for teeth against tooth decay. The Affinity Dental office encourages this safe, cost-effective and durable application for children and youth along with some adults who struggle with obtaining a healthy smile. Good oral hygiene habits, routine dental cleanings, and healthy eating combined with dental sealants are a great way of keeping healthy, strong teeth. Contact the Affinity Dental team for more information on dental sealants.
1 To see more consumer friendly information about dental sealants from the ADA, visit MouthHealthy.org
2 Research results came from The Journal of the American Dental Association, visit JADA.ADA.org.