Demystifying Dental Sealants: 5 Common Questions Answered

Dental sealants one of the most effective—and least invasive—ways of combating tooth decay. Yet people sometimes shy away from sealants because they may feel the cost doesn't justify the usefulness of the procedure. However, this article will demystify dental sealants and explain how they protect your dental health by answering five common questions.

How do dental sealants work?

Dental sealants are, in effect, like impermeable shields for your teeth. They present a protective barrier against decay-causing plaque and tartar. In other words, dental sealants are a preventative measure, meant to safeguard the surface of your teeth. They are most commonly used to protect the top surface of molars, whose deep grooves make them much harder to keep clean.

What material are dental sealants made from?

There have been many different sealant materials used throughout the years, from silver nitrate to methyl cyanoacrylate. Not all of these were equally effective—or equally safe. Luckily, almost all sealants used in modern dentistry consist simply of a layer of clear plastic. This is applied in the form of a liquid, which is then hardened by exposing it to a specific frequency of blue spectrum light.

How long will dental sealants last?

Assuming they are not exposed to any unintended shocks or stresses, dental sealants may be expected to remain in place for between up to ten years. In that time span it is normal to experience some crumbling or flaking of the plastic, and sometimes food can get stuck under the sealant. It's important to have the sealants inspected at  regular dental checkups. Patients are recommended to avoid foods that are especially sticky or hard. By placing more stress on the sealant, such foods can negatively affect its lifespan.

What types of people can get dental sealants?

Dental sealants are considered a safe and effective treatment for patients of all ages, children included. In fact, because children are much more cavity prone than adults, dental sealants are most commonly prescribed for 6–14 year olds. Many dentists feel that the ideal time to begin using dental sealants is as soon as the first molars have emerged.  

Are dental sealants really necessary?

The answer to this question depends to a large degree on your relationship with risk. While it is possible maintain healthy teeth without the use of dental sealants, they undoubtedly offer a significant measure of protection. Think of sealants as an insurance policy for your teeth. Investing a small amount in protecting your teeth now may end up saving you much greater expenses down the line. Click here for more information about sealants.