Cavities are the bane of dentists. Even the most careful patients who brush and floss every day still get cavities. Children’s teeth are especially vulnerable to tooth decay. Is there a solution? Dental sealants are a thin, protective coating that dentists can apply to teeth to protect the teeth against decay. Sealants have gained a lot of traction over the past few decades, as parents and adults realize how important they are.
How Are Sealants Applied?
Applying a dental sealant is a painless process, although it does have a few steps. Sealants need to be applied to clean teeth. After a professional cleaning, the dentist applies an acid to the teeth to rough up the surface. This helps the sealant bond to the tooth. The acid solution is rinsed off the teeth, then the dentist paints the sealant onto the enamel of the tooth, forming a protective shield. A curing light may be used to harden the sealant.
How Long Do Sealants Last?
Sealants protect teeth against tooth decay for many years. During the first two years after the sealant is applied, up to 80% of cavities are prevented. Sealants can last up to 10 years, but your dentist should check for wear at your check-ups and apply more sealant if necessary.
Who Should Get Sealants?
Children are one of the targeted groups for sealants. According to the CDC, school-age children who get sealants get three times less cavities than children without sealants. Sealants are a conservative dental treatment that prevent more invasive types of dental treatments. Children with sealants don’t have to miss school to get dental care from decayed teeth.
Adults with healthy teeth are also candidates for dental sealants. Investing in your teeth can prevent more costlier treatments down the road. Because people of any age are susceptible to tooth decay, sealants are becoming more recognized for preventative care in adults.
Are Sealants Safe?
Sealants are extremely safe. There has never been a reported adverse reaction to sealants in medical literature. The material is tolerated well by most people. Some patients do report that the sealant can feel abnormal after application because it is an added layer on the teeth.
BPA exposure is one concern from dental sealants. In most cases, the exposure to BPA is minimal and a far less risk than tooth decay. Treating dental cavities and tooth decay exposes a person to many more chemicals than the trace amounts of BPA in the dental sealant.