The grooves in teeth can leave kids and adults vulnerable to tooth decay. Though regular brushing and flossing can help prevent cavities, some people are more likely to develop tooth decay (including children with baby teeth).
Why do dentists recommend dental sealants?
If you are one of those people, your dentist may suggest dental sealants. Dental sealants are applied by a dentist easily and painlessly (contact a dentist to find how long it takes to apply sealants). After application, sealants play a key part in preventing the build-up of plaque and food particles in deep grooves, pits and tooth indentations. Your dentist is particularly concerned by teeth with deep grooves in the back of the mouth, where it is hard to reach when brushing and flossing.
If dental sealants are not applied, these areas can be vulnerable to cavities. The build-up of food and bacteria can form plaque. Plaque is acidic, which can lead to tooth decay. A hole formed by tooth decay is called a cavity. Cavities need to be filled by a dentist to stem the progression of tooth decay and protect the structure of teeth.
How long do sealants last?
In the long term, dental sealants usually last around 10 years. Dental sealants should be regularly checked by a dentist at scheduled appointments to ensure that the sealants are not wearing off. When combined with regular brushing and flossing (use these tips to establish good brushing habits), these daily oral habits can help prevent the formation of cavities.
Because of their preventive nature, dental sealants are usually covered by insurance—but not always. Always contact a dental insurance company to find out if dental sealants are covered before scheduling a dentist appointment.