Dental sealants are an excellent way to prevent cavities, both for children whose molars are first starting to come in and for adults. The team of experienced dentists in our office uses sealants to give patients of all ages another line of defense against cavities. To schedule an appointment for yourself or your child, call the practice to schedule an appointment.
What is a dental sealant?
A dental sealant is a thin, plastic coating that your dentist applies to the chewing surfaces of your teeth. They provide additional protection against cavities on top of routine brushing and flossing.
Your dentist usually applies dental sealants to your molars (back teeth). That’s because your molars have uneven surfaces that make them difficult to clean.
Food particles and bacteria can easily settle into the narrow depressions, pits, and grooves in molars. Brushing and flossing may not be enough to clean them because your toothbrush bristles may be too thick to reach every nook and cranny.
After you receive sealants, the tops of your molars are smooth and protected, so they’re easier to clean, and it’s harder for cavity-causing substances to take up residence.
When should my child receive sealants?
Though sealants can benefit both children and adults, they’re most effective for children between the ages of 6 and 14 whose permanent molars are still coming in. Children are especially prone to cavities during that time.
To get the maximum benefits of sealants, children should receive them soon after their permanent molars start to erupt. Usually, your child’s first set of molars show up at age 6, and the second set breaks through at age 12.
The process to apply sealants is painless and lasts only a few minutes. Your child’s dentist can apply sealants at their dental checkup. Once applied, sealants last for up to 10 years and can help your child stay cavity-free.
How can sealants help adults?
Though children are at higher risk of getting cavities than adults, adults can also benefit from the protective effects of sealants. Sealants can prevent the need for more costly, involved dental work down the road.
Sealants work best on healthy, natural teeth without any restoration work. Your dentist may recommend sealants for a tooth with early signs of decay, which can prevent further decay.
It may also be a good idea to get sealants for healthy teeth in “high risk” areas where you’ve gotten cavities.
Dry mouth is a common cause of tooth decay in adults. If you have dry mouth as the result of another condition or medication side effect, sealants can reduce your risk of decay.