Dental Sealants

What are Sealants?

Dental sealants are a clear and protective coating that is applied to the biting surfaces of the 6 and 12-year molars. This protective coating shields the teeth from harmful plaque and bacteria. Sealants are most commonly placed on children’s permanent back teeth that are more prone to cavities because of the deep grooves that are present on the newly erupted teeth that the toothbrush is not able to clean. Most insurance companies pay for, or a part of, sealants on children’s teeth because it is preventative procedure.

When should Sealants be applied?

The first molars usually come into the mouth when a child is about 6 years old and the second molars appear at about age 12. It is best if the sealant is applied soon after the teeth have erupted, before they have a chance to decay.

How do I know if I need Sealants?

Any patient can benefit from sealants on any tooth that has deep grooves and pits.

What to Expect for a Sealant procedure?

The dentist, dental hygienist or expanded functions dental assistant (EFDA) first cleans the tooth with pumice, a gritty material that removes plaque and bacterial from the pits and grooves. After the tooth is thoroughly cleaned a slightly acidic solution called etch is applied to the tooth for 40 seconds to create a rough surface that helps the sealant bond. Once the tooth is completely dry and bonding agent is placed followed by the sealant material. To make sure the sealant is secure a blue spectrum natural light is shone on the applied material for 20 seconds to cure the sealant.

After curing, the sealant becomes a hard, thin layer covering the treated portions of the tooth. Despite the heavy pressures on teeth during chewing each day, dental sealants may remain effective for five years or longer, although sealants do wear naturally and may become damaged over time. It is highly recommended that these damaged sealants be repaired or a chance of decay may occur.

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