10 Common Questions about Dental Sealant
Maintaining your child’s teeth as he or she grows is an important part of ensuring his or her overall health. When your child’s adult teeth come in, his or her pediatric dentist will likely recommend applying sealant to the teeth’s surfaces.
Here are 10 common questions you or your child may have about dental sealant.
1. Does Sealant Prevent Cavities?
No, sealant cannot eliminate the chance of your child having cavities. Tooth decay prevention requires regular brushing, flossing, and use of fluoride. However, sealant makes it easier to maintain oral health, decreasing your child’s chances of cavities and other forms of tooth decay.
2. What is Sealant Made Of?
Your child’s dentist may use sealant made from any one of a variety of materials, including:
- Specialized plastics, which may be clear or tinted
Dental experts are experimenting with other durable materials, such as glass. These materials may be used in the future to create longer-lasting sealants. Experts are also researching sealant materials that can release small amounts of fluoride and calcium over time to strengthen the tooth.
3. How Does Sealant Work?
As they grow, teeth can develop gaps on their surfaces. These gaps, categorized either as pits or fissures, can trap bacteria and cause decay. Most pits and fissures are too narrow for toothbrush bristles to reach. They may even be invisible to the naked eye. Tooth enamel is at its thinnest in a pit or fissure, which increases the chance that collected bacteria will begin to break down the tooth.
As the name suggests, dentists apply sealant over the pits and fissures in a patient’s teeth to prevent bacteria from settling in the most vulnerable areas of the tooth.
4. Which Teeth Should be Sealed?
Sealant is usually placed on back, adult molars. These teeth are often difficult for children to clean and maintain properly, which can lead to rapid tooth decay. Even if your child is brushing twice a day, the bristles of their toothbrush are too wide to access the pits and fissures in their back teeth.
This is why dental professionals typically apply sealant to all of a patient’s permanent molars—the three teeth furthest back on each side of the mouth.
5. When Should a Patient Get Sealant?
Dental professionals recommend placing sealant within the first three years after the teeth erupt. Your child’s first permanent molars, commonly called 6-year molars, typically come in between the ages of five and seven. His or her second set of permanent molars, known as 12-year molars, erupt between the ages of 11 and 14. So, most children have sealants put in twice—when they are 6 or 7 and when they are 12 or 13.
6. How is Sealant Applied?
Sealant application is a painless process and does not require anesthetic. Your dentist will perform the following steps:
- Clean and dry the teeth to create a surface the sealant will adhere to easily.
- Treat each tooth with a mild solution that kills bacteria and primes the surface for adhesion.
- Paint liquid sealant onto the chewing surface of each tooth.
- Harden the sealant using a specialized light.
- Check the bond to ensure the coating is even, complete, and won’t interfere with eating or oral hygiene.
7. How Long Does Applying Sealant Take?
Because sealant application does not require any anesthetic or drilling, the appointment takes little time. After cleaning an application, it takes about a minute for sealant to harden under the light.
Often, dentists will perform sealant application at the end of a regularly scheduled cleaning appointment to save time.
8. Are There Risks?
Like any medical procedure, sealant application has inherent risks. However, these are typically minor and easily prevented. Risks may include:
- Allergic reaction to the sealant. Discuss your child’s allergies with his or her dentist beforehand to prevent any adverse reactions.
- Exposure to toxins. Older materials used as sealants contained trace elements of Bisphenol A (BPA). However, the Canadian Dental Association assures patients that the amount of BPA in dental products is well within the prescribed safety standards.
Address any safety concerns you have with your child’s dentist before the procedure.
9. How Much Does Sealant Cost?
Sealant is an affordable preventative measure. Typically, sealant costs between $25 and $50 per tooth. Most dental insurance plans cover the cost of sealant, though your child’s age and oral health condition may affect his or her coverage.
Talk to your child’s dentist and your insurance provider to find out exactly how much you can expect to pay for your child’s sealant.
10. How Long Does Sealant Last?
Though sealant is not permanent, it can provide effective cavity prevention for up to ten years. After your child’s teeth are sealed, his or her dentist will check the bond at each dentist appointment so they can reseal any chipping, unusual wear, or cracks.
If your child’s adult teeth are beginning to come in, or if he or she is at high risk for childhood tooth decay, talk to your dentist about dental sealant. The dentist will evaluate your child’s case and answer any other questions you have. Sealant plays an important role in tooth decay prevention for your child. Talk to your child’s dentist to find out if dental sealant can help protect your child’s developing teeth.
If you have yet to choose a family dentist, call Ivory Dental Centre for a dental consultation for you and your family members.