Prevent Decay With Dental Sealants

In addition to good oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing, there are other ways to prevent tooth decay.  Dental sealants can help protect your children’s teeth by sealing them off from decay causing bacteria.

What are Dental Sealants?

Made of tooth colored plastic, dental sealants are applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to protect the enamel from decay-causing bacteria and acids.  These sealants fit perfectly into the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of your children’s teeth, protecting them from decay.  While brushing and flossing help to remove food particles and plaque from the smooth surfaces of the tooth, toothbrush bristles often can’t reach into the tooth’s depressions and grooves.  Sealants can protect these areas and prevent food and bacteria from building up on the chewing surfaces.

How Long Do Sealants Last & When Should You Get Them?

The risk of decay decreases significantly after sealant application, and as long as the sealant remains intact, the tooth surfaces will be protected from decay.  Sealants hold up well under the force of normal chewing and usually last 5 to 10 years before a reapplication is needed.  During your child’s regular dental visits, his or her dentist will check the condition of sealants, and reapply them as necessary.

Decay begins early in life, so children should receive sealants on permanent molars as soon as they erupt-around age 6 for first molars and age 12 for second molars.

Are Sealants Safe & Does My Insurance Pay For Sealants?

Yes, sealants are safe.  In some extremely rare cases, some people have an allergic reaction to the plastic.  Prior to receiving any dental treatments, it is important that you talk to your dentist regarding any allergies you or your children may have.

Health insurance usually will pay for sealants for children and teenagers permanent molars.  If your dentist suggests sealants for other teeth, they may or may not be covered but your dentist should be able to help you find out.  Be sure to check with your dental insurance company about your plan, as coverage varies according to insurance plan.

AGD Impact February 2013 www.agd.org