Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dental Sealants - a great way to prevent cavities!

What are dental sealants?

Dental sealants are thin resin coatings that are applied to the grooves on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to protect them from tooth decay. Most tooth decay in children and teens occurs on these surfaces. Sealants protect the chewing surfaces from tooth decay by keeping germs and food particles out of these grooves.

Sealants do not, however, protect the areas of the teeth on the cheek side, tongue side, or in between the teeth, so proper brushing and flossing is still necessary to keep the tooth from decay.

Which teeth are suitable for sealants?

Permanent molars are the most likely to benefit from sealants. The first molars usually come into the mouth when a child is about 6 years old. 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. Baby teeth don't generally need to be sealed.

How are sealants applied?

There are a variety of ways to place sealants. The most common sealant procedure is to use a mild acid "etch" of the teeth to gently roughen the surface of the tooth, then flow the resin sealant material into the grooves of the tooth and use an ultraviolet light to harden the resin.

However, we have found that our sealants can be more effective and longer lasting by modifying that basic technique. So our sealants include a very thorough cleaning of the fissures and grooves within the teeth to eliminate any bacteria. Without this step, it could be possible to seal IN the bacteria that can cause tooth decay. Then we use the mild acid "etch", and then as an additional step to retain the sealant, we use a chemical agent that "bonds" the sealant material in. This really makes for a solid long lasting sealant.

This is the Meiners Dentistry difference.

Are sealants visible?

Sealants can only be seen up close. Sealants are generally a fairly opaque white, as seen in the picture above.

Will sealants make teeth feel different?

As with anything new that is placed in the mouth, a child may feel the sealant with the tongue. Sealants, however, are very thin and only fill the pits and grooves of molar teeth.

How long will sealants last?

A sealant can last for as long as 5 to 10 years. Sealants should be checked at your regular dental appointment and can be reapplied if they are no longer in place.

Why is sealing a tooth better than waiting for decay and filling the cavity?

Decay damages teeth permanently. Sealants protect them. Sealants can save time, money, and the discomfort sometimes associated with dental fillings. Fillings are not permanent. Each time a tooth is filled, more drilling is done and the tooth becomes a little weaker.

Are sealants covered by dental insurance?

Many dental insurances cover sealants at 100% as a preventative procedure. Others cover as much as 80% of the procedure. We can check with your coverage. Sealants are very affordable even if you do not have dental insurance though.

Make sure to ask if dental sealants are right for your child at your next dental visit!

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