By now, we should all know the basics of taking care of our teeth and oral health (and if you don’t, that’s OK — be sure to schedule your next appointment ASAP so we can educate you!) Brushing, flossing, routine cleanings and checkups with your dentist are great places to start.
However, even having the perfect dental routine can’t always prevent tooth decay and cavities, which can be very confusing and frustrating when you’re so dedicated to flossing! Our back teeth, called molars, with their rough and uneven surfaces, are the ones we utilize the most to chew our food. As we age, molar surfaces naturally become more uneven, and grooves continue to deepen. These depressions are the perfect spot for tooth decay and eventually, cavities to develop because your toothbrush or floss can’t reach.
Luckily, there is an easy and painless solution for preventing cavities in your molars — dental sealants.
What are sealants?
Dental sealants are thin, protective coatings that are “painted” onto your molars. Made from composites and other dental materials, sealants adhere to the grooves and depressions of molars, reducing the likelihood of tooth decay.
According to Mouth Healthy, sealants reduce the risk of cavities by 80%.
Who should get sealants?
Children and teenagers are actually prime candidates for sealants. It is recommended that children get sealants on their permanent molars to reduce the risk of cavities. Studies by the CDC have shown that children without sealants have three times more cavities than children with sealants.
Also, adults who do not have fillings in their back teeth are excellent candidates for sealants. By investing in sealants early on, there’s a huge potential for cost and time savings down the road by taking these preventative measures.
Are sealants painful or harmful?
The short answer is NO!
The process of applying sealants is painless and is most efficiently done after a routine cleaning at your dentist’s office, as sealants must be applied to thoroughly cleaned teeth. After the cleaning, each tooth is dried using cotton. Then, an acid is applied to roughen up the surface texture of the teeth, which makes it easier for the sealant to bond. Next, the teeth are rinsed and dried. Finally, the sealant is applied to the tooth enamel, which hardens as it bonds to the tooth. Your dentist or dental hygienist may use a curing light to speed up the hardening process.
Sealants have a fluoride releasing capability, which means they absorb fluoride from toothpaste and then mineralize the tooth surface, which protects it from decay.
And that’s it!
Most patients note that it feels a little awkward when they first bite down because of the fresh layer of plastic in your back teeth. But that feeling only lasts for a day or so, and it’s not painful at all.
Speaking of plastic — yes, there is BPA in sealants, but only trace amounts. As in, not even enough to register at the 1ppm level. Therefore, it’s not enough to cause harm to your health. There’s a lot more BPA exposure in things like handling a receipt or in cosmetics. Ultimately, both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dental Association still recommend the use of sealants despite the trace amounts of BPA.
Some dental insurances cover sealants, but some do not. At Anantuni Family Dental in Chandler, Arizona, our front office staff is happy to work with you to see if your dental plan covers any portion of sealants. But if sealants aren’t covered under your plan, we still recommend investing in them because they’ve proven to be a tremendous preventative measure, which could save money and time in the future.
The next time you’re in for a cleaning, be sure to ask Dr. Anantuni or Dr. Avadhani if you’re a good candidate for protective dental sealants! Trust us, it’s much easier and way less painful to apply sealants than it is to do a filling for a cavity.