Dental sealants are a thin, liquid plastic-like material that can be applied to the chewing surfaces of teeth to help prevent decay. The chewing surfaces of teeth often have tiny pits or grooves that can become harbors for bacteria that can cause tooth decay and deep infection. These grooves and pits can be difficult to brush clean, especially for children whose brushing habits may not be up to par. Dental sealants help protect these areas and prevent bacteria that may be located in the pits and grooves from penetrating the tooth surface and causing decay. The American Dental Association (ADA) recognizes dental sealants as an important part of cavity protection.
Dental sealants are applied during a regular office appointment. It takes just a few minutes to apply sealants and the procedure is completely painless and noninvasive. First, teeth are carefully examined to look for signs of decay or other damage. The teeth are cleaned and a special etching solution is applied to “rough up” the tooth surface so the sealant adheres better. After about 15 seconds, the solution is removed and the sealant is applied and then cured with a special light. The procedure takes from 10 to 45 minutes depending on the number of teeth that are being sealed.
Dental sealants can last as long as 10 years before they need to be reapplied. During each checkup, sealants can be examined to determine their level of wear and to provide “touch-up” applications as needed to provide a consistent amount of coverage.
Insurance coverage for sealants can vary from one dental insurance policy to another. Although most companies provide basic coverage for sealants, today many companies are recognizing sealants as an important part of preventive care that can help cut costs in the future, which means higher coverage levels are becoming more common. Patients can consult their plan administrator or ask our staff to review the coverage limits for them.