When we think of all the ways you can help safeguard your teeth against cavities, we tend to think of the basics – brush and floss your teeth on a regular basis. Combined with professional teeth cleanings and oral exams, patients are able to set themselves up for success. However, there’s one dental procedure that can help take protecting your teeth to the next level, and it comes from using dental sealants! We’re diving deep into what dental sealants are and how they can help you save your teeth in the long run. If you’re ready for dental sealants, use our “Dentist Near Me” ZIP search tool to find your closest Castle Dental. From there, our staff can help with any specific questions you may have for you and your smile.
What Are Dental Sealants?
Every day our teeth face cavity-causing bacteria every minute. From the foods we eat to the oral hygiene we practice at home, our teeth need to be strong and ready to prevent any infections and cavities from forming. While the enamel on our teeth are strong, they’re not impervious to damage. That’s where dental sealants come in. Dental sealants are a type of plastic coating that’s placed on top of the surface of permanent molars and premolars. Sealants are placed on top of chewing services to help provide an extra layer of protection between bacteria and our tooth enamel.
How Dental Sealants Can Help
If you use a mirror to look far into your mouth on your molars and premolars, you will notice that the surface of our teeth have grooves that often go inward toward the center of our teeth. These large grooves create small crevices that can easily trap plaque and bacteria, making it easy for cavities to form. While it can be difficult to see, these grooves can be tiny, which make it hard for the bristles of our toothbrush to get to and scrub away before tartar forms. Once plaque and tartar sit for too long, the acid will start to form cavities on the enamel of your teeth. If patients have particularly weak enamel, they can opt for fluoride rinses or fluoride treatments at the dentist office to try and remineralize and strengthen the enamel on their teeth. However, sometimes our teeth need an extra set of protective barriers. By using sealants, patients fill in the grooves and create a smooth surface that provides an extra layer of protection against bacteria.
Who Should Get Dental Sealants?
Everyone can benefit from dental sealants. As they are a way to protect your teeth from further damage, they are ideal for anyone who is particularly susceptible to the development of cavities. Ideally, patients should opt to get sealants on their teeth early on. Once your permanent molars set in, it’s good practice to protect them right away. Children can get dental sealants as early as age 6 if they struggle with dental hygiene. Their second set of molars typically grown in around age 12. Ask your dentist when is a good time to get dental sealants for your child. Patients typically won’t have to have dental sealants placed on wisdom teeth, as these are generally removed.
In some instances, dental sealants can be placed on other teeth that have major grooves or pits where bacteria can become easily trapped. This is true for both children and adults that want to protect their underlying teeth. For children, protecting teeth with dental sealants on their primary teeth can help prevent cavities that can ultimately impact their permanent teeth. You can think of dental sealants as purely preventative. Placing them on your teeth early on can help save you money and time spent on the dentist dealing with painful cavities. Set up a consultation if you think dental sealants may be an option for you and your family.
Dental Sealants and Cavities
Even adult or children patients that have already developed a cavity can benefit from using dental sealants. Just because you have a filling on a tooth that’s been used to fix an old cavity, doesn’t mean the tooth is cavity-proof. Using sealants can safeguard against further damage to your tooth. Sealants are made of a clear material, so your dentist will still be able to detect if there are any dental issues that arise in the future.
Dental Sealant Procedure
Getting dental sealants is an easy dental procedure that often takes one visit to your dentist. The process is generally painless, as your dentist is simply placing material over your existing tooth, without needing to remove any portion of your tooth. Dental sealants are made of plastic or resin, which starts off as a liquid that is brushed onto the surface of each tooth. Before the resin is actually applied to your teeth, the tooth’s surface will need to be cleaned thoroughly. This will prevent any bacteria or plaque from getting trapped under the sealant.
Afterwards, a solution is placed on the surface of each tooth before being rinsed off with water. This is helps create a rough surface on a microscopic scale, giving the sealant a better surface to adhere to. Using a brush and paste, your dentist will scrub and polish each affected tooth. After application, the resin will dry into a hard plastic. Sometimes your dentist may use a UV light to cure the sealant and speed up the hardening process. Another type of resin will be able to set without using a light to harden the material. After the sealant is set, you are set to go about chewing and using your teeth as you were before.
The color of the sealant will depend on the type of material used. Some will be clear, and others will be a similar color to your tooth. Either way, the dental sealant is not meant to be visible, nor should you be able to feel a notable difference in the surface of your tooth. If you bite down and notice any large differences, your dentist may need to file down part of a sealant if it’s rubbing against your opposing tooth in an uneven manner.
Timeframe for Dental Sealants
Sealants will often last for several years before they need to be reapplied. In some cases, they have been known to last up to 10 years if you properly care for them. A nice aspect of dental sealants is they won’t need to be removed for a new application, as they’ll gradually wear away with time. As long as you don’t use your teeth against non-food material, such as tearing open packaging or chewing ice, your dental sealants should last.
At each oral exam, have your dentist give your dental sealants a look to determine what state they’re in and when you’ll approximately be due for reapplication. If they notice it’s time for a new application, they can do so after your next teeth cleaning, or schedule a separate appointment with you. You’ll want to keep up the structure of your dental sealants whenever possible to continue to help your teeth prevent cavities.
Keep in mind the dental sealants only protect the surface of your teeth, and not your entire tooth. Having them doesn’t mean that you can refrain from other ways to keep your teeth cavity-free. Be sure to continue to use fluoride treatments whenever possible to help strengthen your entire tooth, not just the surface. You’ll also want to continue proper at-home dental care such as brushing your teeth and flossing on a regular basis. As always, schedule your regular professional teeth cleanings and oral exams throughout the year.
How to Care for Dental Sealants
The beauty of dental sealants come with the ease in caring for them. You can go about your lifestyle and habits as you would with your teeth normally. Because the dental sealants sit on top of your teeth, there’s nothing extra patients have to do as far as caring for them. Remember to brush and floss your teeth as you normally would to keep the rest of your teeth healthy. If you ever visit a new dentist for the first time, be sure to notify them about your sealants and have them check on them frequently. Dental sealants will gradually wear away with time, so keeping an eye on them will help keep your teeth cavity free.
Dental Sealants Cost
Dental sealants are often viewed as preventative care, and may already be covered by your dental insurance provider. At Castle Dental, we accept most dental insurance plans. If you want to confirm, just give your local office a call and they’d be more than happy to confirm for you. We also file claims for our patients, taking away the hassle that can come with your appointment.
Other options to pay for dental sealants include using money-saving offers and promotions running in your area. Several offices may be featuring different coupons for patients to take advantage of general dental services they’d normally pay full price for. We also offer flexible payment plans and dental plans to help manage the cost of your visit to the dentist. Affordability accompanied by quality care is what we stand for, which is why we provide our patients so many options when it comes to financing their dental services.