Long-Term Protection Without Detection
Many people have numerous deep pits and grooves in their teeth, making them especially susceptible to decay. Children who haven’t yet formed good brushing habits may also develop decay easily on their newly erupted molar surfaces. Whereas both of these situations may have previously meant cavity trouble at each dental visit, dental sealants now offer a means of successfully protecting molar and premolar chewing surfaces from decay. Dental sealants are simply a thin plastic film that we can apply to your at-risk tooth surfaces to significantly reduce or entirely prevent decay. In fact, sealants have been used successfully for nearly 30 years, and have long been recognized by the American Dental Association as a way to prevent cavities.
Preparation & Application
Once we’ve identified and filled any existing spots of decay, we simply apply the sealants with a few easy steps. First, we prepare your teeth with a specialized cleaning agent and brief exposure to an ‘etching’ solution. After the etching solution has remained on the teeth enamel surfaces for 15 seconds, we thoroughly rinse it away with water and allow the surfaces to dry completely. Next, we coat your teeth surfaces with the sealant material, which we then harden with a special curing light. For best results and lengthy protection, it’s important to do these steps carefully. The entire procedure is not only painless, but fairly fast-requiring between ten and forty-five minutes, depending on the number of teeth we’re sealing.
Effectiveness & Durability
When properly applied to ensure maximum adherence, dental sealants have been proven to be 100 percent effective in preventing tooth surface decay and the resulting cavities. While intact, sealants actually create an impenetrable physical barrier for small food particles and cavity-causing bacteria. In fact, sealants can even stop an existing decay process from continuing, by cutting of the bacteria’s nutrient supply. However, if at any time the sealant-tooth bond is broken, sealant protection is reduced or lost entirely.
Unbroken, sealants typically last at least five years; in some cases, they may last up to 10 years. For example, one study reported that 49 percent of one patient’s treated teeth were still protected after seven years. However, it’s important to have regular dental checkups to monitor the bond between the teeth and the sealant.
Cost & Insurance
Currently, most insurance companies only cover sealant procedures at a minimal level. However, some accept children’s sealants as a covered item. Also, more and more insurance companies seem to be recognizing this technique’s value as a preventive measure that will help reduce future dental costs and more aggressive treatments.