When are Dental Sealants Necessary?

Posted on: June 2, 2018

Dental sealants are a common element in preventative dentistry. It’s an affordable, quick and easy way to protect your teeth from tooth decay, thus lowering your future dental bills. Dental sealants are suitable for anyone who is susceptible to tooth decay. That often includes children as well since many do not develop good oral hygiene habits until later in life, and they tend to love sweet things.

What are dental sealants?

An oral sealant is a plastic material that is applied to the biting surfaces of a person's teeth. These treatments are most often used to protect the molars at the back of a person's mouth since these are the hardest teeth to clean — making them more vulnerable to tooth decay.

The American Dental Association recommends protecting children's teeth with sealants as soon as they erupt (https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/s/sealants). Kids tend to have poor brushing habits and most aren't particularly worried about their oral health. Adults can also benefit greatly from these plastic coatings since tooth decay is a dental issue that affects people of all ages.

People who are susceptible to tooth decay, in particular, could benefit greatly from using a sealant. While having good oral hygiene is typically enough to keep tooth decay at bay, the reality is that some people's genes make them more vulnerable to this dental disease.

How dental sealants work

Dentist apply sealant to fill up the grooves and fissures on a patient's biting surfaces. This prevents food particles from accumulating in these spaces. Bacteria in the mouth convert food particles into acids that can damage the enamel of a person's teeth, so denying them food particles to feast on goes a long way when it comes to fighting tooth decay.

With good oral hygiene, a dental sealant can last as long as 10 years. However, an inspection of the sealant by the dentist should occur at least twice a year, so that he or she can apply touch-up coatings as needed. Once the sealant wears down, it's possible for food particles and bacteria to get underneath it.

The effectiveness of dental sealants

According to research conducted by the ADA, sealants reduce the odds of developing cavities by 80 percent for the first year after its application (https://www.ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/dental-sealants). The effectiveness then goes down to 60 percent for the next four years.

Dental sealants are just as effective when used on children (https://www.ada.org/en/publications/ada-news/2016-archive/july/evidence-shows-kids-strongly-benefit-from-sealants), which is why the ADA recommends using them to protect all of a child's permanent teeth as soon as they emerge. Unfortunately, only about 20 percent of children living under the poverty line and 40 percent of middle-class children actually get sealants on their permanent teeth.

As effective as sealants can be, nothing beats good oral hygiene. Taking proper care of your mouth remains the most effective way to keep teeth decay-free. A sealant just provides an extra layer of protection. If you want to learn more about dental sealants, then schedule a consultation with your dentist today.

Request an appointment in our Denham Springs dentist office here: https://www.sandeferpremierdental.com.

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