Sealants: Sealing Out Decay
Brushing and flossing everyday are the best ways to prevent cavities, but there’s an additional way to protect you teeth. It’s called a sealant, and it’s a thin coating made from plastic and other dental materials that is applied to the surfaces of molars. Molars (your back teeth), have deep grooves and can be an easy place for cavities to form. By applying sealants, the progression from initial decay to a full cavity can be delayed.
Both adults and children can benefit from sealants, but the earlier they are applied, the better. Sealing teeth as soon as they erupt (first molars around age 6, second molars around age 12) can keep them cavity-free from the beginning, which can prevent future time and money. Sealants have been shown to reduce risk of decay in molars by up to 80%. According to the CDC, children without sealants have nearly three times as many cavities as children with sealants–they are incredibly reliable at preventing decay.
The actual application process is a quick appointment: the dentist will clean and dry the teeth, brush on a bonding agent, apply the sealant, and harden it with a blue light. The sealant will last several years before needing to be reapplied, but make sure that you visit the dentist regularly to have it monitored.
Best of all, some insurance policies cover the cost of sealants for children under a certain age. Check with your insurance company, as they may pay for sealants, saving you time, money and extensive dental work in the long run.