How Do Dental Sealants Work?

Dental Health
By: Spirit Dental
May 28, 2020

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Have you heard of dental sealants? If you haven’t, it’s definitely worth becoming familiar with this treatment option, which might help you avoid the dreaded dentist’s drill.

What are dental sealants, and how do they work? Who would be a good candidate for a sealant, and are they really effective? We’ve got you covered with some helpful information below.

What Is a Dental Sealant?

A sealant is basically a plastic coating that your dentist can paint onto your teeth, in a thin layer, to help prevent decay. It might be clear, slightly tinted, or white in color, but you likely won’t even be able to see it.

What’s the purpose of a sealant? Well, it is used to protect the chewing surfaces of the teeth, especially the chompers in the back of the mouth, as those areas tend to be more susceptible to cavities, even if you brush and floss every day.

How Does a Dental Sealant Work?

The great thing about a sealant is that it can get into the various nooks and crannies of your teeth. Because your premolars and molars, in particular, have uneven and rough chewing surfaces, it can be easy for food particles to get stuck in there. Acid-producing bacteria might also be able to hide and thrive in those little spaces, evading your toothbrush even if you brush consistently.

Sealants work by bonding to the surface of teeth quickly and creating a sort of shield to further protect the enamel from plaque, bacteria, and acid that can wreak havoc. Therefore, your dentist might recommend a sealant to help prevent cavities in the first place or to try to halt decay from progressing while it’s still in an early stage.

How Effective Are Dental Sealants?

Experts have found that sealants may help lower the risk of tooth decay in molars by 80% for two years and by 50% for up to four years. That’s impressive!

But it doesn’t even stop there. In school-age kids, those who haven’t had sealants applied to their teeth develop nearly three times more cavities compared to kids that have had sealants applied to their chompers.

In other words, sealants might be an effective way to prevent tooth decay in children, teens, and adults. And, sometimes, a sealant might be recommended for children who still have their baby teeth!

But, wait, how long does a sealant last? Well, it might last almost a decade! Pretty awesome, right? However, you do need to see your dentist regularly to ensure the sealant isn’t wearing away or chipping, and to check that the sealant hasn’t fallen off. Don’t worry: if there are any problems with a sealant, it can easily be reapplied.

What to Expect When Getting a Dental Sealant

More good news: dental sealants are painless, and the process for applying them is super simple and takes mere minutes.

  1. A dental hygienist or your dentist will start by cleaning and drying the teeth that will be sealed.
  2. Then, they’ll apply an acid solution to the chewing surfaces of the teeth (this will allow the sealant to bond to each tooth effectively) before rinsing and drying the teeth again.
  3. Finally, the sealant is painted on and allowed to harden, sometimes with the help of a special light.

Think Dental Sealants Might Be Right for You?

Talk to your dentist about sealants and their pros and cons. You might be the ideal candidate for this treatment, which can help you rest assured that you’re doing everything you can to keep cavities at bay. And, with the right dental insurance, you might even be able to save money when opting to have a sealant applied to your teeth or to your child’s teeth. Then, it’s just a matter of brushing and flossing daily at home, and making appointments for checkups and cleanings on a regular basis.


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