Dental sealants are an easy, pain-free way to prevent dental decay in children. In addition to dental cleanings and fluoride treatments, dental sealants are one of the best ways to prevent decay. Sealants can last for up to 10 years, making them an affordable investment in cavity prevention.
Typically, dental sealant appointments are fast and easy. We start by preparing the tooth. We’ll clean it first, sometimes using an abrasive polish (like what we use to polish the teeth after a dental cleaning). We need to clean the tooth to remove any plaque or bacteria in the grooves. If we placed the sealant in the grooves without first cleaning them, we run the risk of trapping bacteria, which thrives in a dark environment. The result: Dental decay under the sealant. We want to avoid that.
After cleaning, we’ll apply an etchant gel that roughens the surface of the tooth to prepare it for an adhesive. If we didn’t do this, we couldn’t ensure that the sealant would adhere to the tooth, thereby making the appointment a waste of your time and money.
After a few seconds, we rinse away the etchant and dry the tooth. We’ll place a lot of cotton around the teeth to keep saliva from touching them. Not only will the wet saliva prevent the adhesive from working, but the saliva also contains bacteria. We don’t want to contaminate what we just cleaned.
Finally, we’ll apply the tooth-colored sealant material and cure it with an ultraviolet light. We’ll check your child’s bite after the procedure to ensure there are no high spots that can make chewing uncomfortable.
Here are just a few of the questions parents ask us about dental sealants for kids. If you have any other questions, please feel free to reach out to your Florida pediatric dentist. We’re happy to answer your questions.
According to a 2016 CDC report, 90% of cavities occur on irregular surfaces. That aptly describes the biting surfaces of posterior (back teeth), doesn’t it?
The deep grooves in the teeth are ideal places for food to get stuck and for plaque to build up. Eventually, oral bacteria release acids that damage the enamel and lead to dental decay.
Children have particularly deep occlusal (biting surface) grooves. And because they are still learning how to care for their teeth, thoroughly cleaning those grooves can be difficult, if not impossible. Even if you’re the one cleaning their teeth, it can be hard to clean thoroughly – not for a lack of effort but simply because it’s physically awkward to clean another person’s teeth (especially a little one who might be fighting you!).
We need grooves in our teeth to be able to chew our food properly, so we don’t want to fill in the grooves completely. But if we fill in the deepest parts, we can make it easier to clean the teeth and prevent food compaction, plaque build-up, and decay.
Not at all. Your child shouldn’t experience any pain while getting a dental sealant. The process doesn’t require anesthesia, dental handpieces, or other invasive tools. The only thing your child will have to deal with is keeping their mouth open while the sealants are placed and the water we use to rinse the teeth.
According to the CDC, sealants can protect against 80% of cavities for up to two years. They can also protect against 50% of cavities up to four years after they’ve been applied.
How effective they are depends on multiple factors, including the fact that proper, regular oral hygiene is needed to ultimately prevent decay. Another factor is whether the sealants are breaking down, which happens over time. When this happens, we can completely replace the sealant or repair it.
Nearly every child is a good candidate for sealants.
We can place sealants in primary and permanent teeth, so even if your child has all their adult teeth, they are still a good candidate for this preventative procedure.
There are no known side effects of dental sealants.
Sealants are affordable compared to the cost of restorative treatments, oftentimes costing about a third or less of the cost of a dental filling. Talk to our financial coordinator to get a cost estimate and to discuss payment plans if needed.
Many insurance companies pay for dental sealants. They’re listed under diagnostic and preventative procedures. Depending on the company and the plan you have, diagnostic and preventative treatments can be covered at 80%-100%.
Of course, you’ll need to talk to your insurance company to get the specifics and to see if there are any sort of limitations on your plan (an unmet deductible, age requirements, etc.). Our financial coordinator will be happy to provide you with a cost estimate of your co-payment amount once we’re all on the same page regarding how much insurance will cover.
Dr. Derek Busciglio highly recommends that all his pediatric patients receive dental sealants. Doing so can give your child a good chance of avoiding dental decay. Preventing cavities and the need for fillings will save your family a lot of time and money over the years. Dental sealants will help your child keep their beautiful, healthy smile for years to come.