Extra Protection for Your Child’s Teeth
A sealant is a clear or tooth-colored thin resin coating that creates a barrier between the tooth and harmful acids/plaque generated by bacteria. According to the CDC, 90% of cavities occur in teeth with irregular surfaces, i.e. molars. Sealant treatments take less than half an hour and are completely painless. The sealant is simply “painted” over the chewing surface of teeth and a curing light may be used to help harden the sealant.
The optimum timing for sealants is upon the eruption of the first and second permanent molars around age six and twelve. Third molars erupt around age eighteen and if are not extracted, should also be treated. A child’s ‘cavity-prone’ years correlate to the optimum timing for sealants which indicates that upon the eruption of the first and second permanent molars, sealants should be applied before decay can set in.
Sealants can last up to five years or longer with proper care, including brushing and flossing. However, they are not a replacement for fluoride and good oral hygiene. It is important to avoid hard foods, such as ice cubes or hard candy, that may damage the sealant. Avoiding sodas (even diet) and sports drinks (Gatorade, Powerade, etc.) is crucial in helping to preserve sealants, avoiding weakening of tooth enamel, and avoiding formation of cavities.
Sealants are quite affordable, especially when you compare their cost to the cost of treating cavities. Many dental insurance companies provide coverage for sealants but may have limitations on the types of teeth treated or the timing of the application/age of patient. Your best bet is to check with your insurance company for additional information on their coverage of sealants.