Has your dentist recommended that you have dental sealants put onto your child’s teeth? These sealants can be an important way to set your child up for a lifetime of good dental health. Read on to find out everything you need to know about dental sealants.

What is a Dental Sealant?

Dental sealants are extremely thin, plastic tooth coatings that are applied onto the teeth. They are commonly found on the molars and premolars so that they can prevent tooth decay. After they have been painted on, the sealant will quickly bond to the grooves and depressions of the teeth in order to form a protective shield over the enamel. They protect the most vulnerable areas of the tooth from decay by keeping food and plaque out.

Who is a Good Candidate for Sealants?

Children and teens are most often the recipients of sealants, and this is because they are more likely than adults to develop decay within the grooves of their teeth. Kids should get sealants painted on as soon as their permanent teeth erupt so that they protect teeth during the child’s most cavity-prone years. In some situations, baby teeth may also be given sealants in order to keep these teeth healthy until they fall out and are replaced.

What is the Application Process?

When placing sealants onto the teeth, your dentist will first clean the teeth thoroughly. Once each tooth is dried, cotton will be placed around the first tooth to be sealed to keep it dry. An acidic solution is then placed onto the chewing surfaces of the tooth so that it is roughened, as this will help the sealant to better bond to the teeth. Once the surface is rough, the tooth is rinsed and dried, and the sealant is painted onto the enamel. The sealant will bond to the tooth before it hardens, and in some cases, a curing light will be used to speed up the hardening process.

Are Tooth Sealants Effective?

Studies have shown that when sealants are applied properly, they are highly effective at protecting the tooth from cavities. As long as the sealant is intact, bacteria and small food particles that result in cavities should not be able to penetrate through or navigate around a sealant. 

How Long Will Sealants Last?

Sealants are designed to last for several years before a reapplication is needed. They are designed to hold up under the force of normal chewing. During your regular dentist appointments, your dentist can check the condition of your child’s sealants and will reapply them if necessary.

Will Insurance Cover the Cost?

Many insurance companies are beginning to cover sealant procedures. This could be because companies have realized that sealants are a reliable and proven technique in cavity prevention. By having sealants in place, further dental expenses are reduced, and the teeth are protected from more aggressive treatment options. However, you will want to consult with your individual policy to see if your health or dental insurance will pick up the cost associated with dental sealants.