What are dental sealants?
Teeth have groves in the biting surface. The depth of these grooves can vary with each individual’s personal anatomy and hereditary traits. When an individual has deep groves on their teeth, food and bacteria can become lodged inside. Even with excellent brushing habits, teeth with deep groves can still collect debris and bacteria. The bristles are not physically able reach deep enough into the grooves of the tooth.
For these types of teeth, a dental sealant is necessary for cavity prevention. Like spackling a crack on a concrete sidewalk, the sealant “seals” the tooth surface preventing food and bacteria from causing damage. By sealing groves, it also makes brushing your teeth more effective.
If left untreated, the bacteria will weaken the groves and cause a cavity making a dental filling necessary. It’s important to note that people with great brushing habits are still susceptible to cavities in these areas.
How are sealants applied?
Sealants are applied without drilling or altering the tooth structure. The dentist or dental hygienist will use a gel to clean the surface area of the tooth to remove any bacteria or residue. Then, the tooth is dried; the sealant is applied and smoothed across the surface. Once it is dry, usually by a handheld light, the sealant is now hard and forms a protective shield over the tooth.
When is the best time to get sealants and how long do they last?
Sealants are frequently given to children to prevent cavities from forming on their permanent molars and premolars. Children are great candidates because sealants are ideal for teeth that do not have any cavities. However, adults can also benefit from sealants to prevent tooth decay. Sealants provide protection to the tooth usually for 5–10 years.
Are sealants covered by dental insurance?
Most dental plans cover dental sealants for children. Often, there are age limits for reimbursement from insurance companies on the application of sealants. Some plans allow sealants up to age 17 while others stop reimbursement at the age of 13. This is why it is important not to let your insurance company dictate the care you receive. A sealant is the best protection against cavities and if you choose against sealants because of the insurance reimbursement, more often you will develop a cavity in area leading to much higher dental expense.
What do dental sealants cost?
The cost of sealants varies based on the insurance provider and geographic area you live. Depending on your insurance plan, there may be no out-of-pocket expense. When considering cost, it far less expensive to choose a sealant than to allow the untreated tooth to develop a cavity.