What are Dental Sealants and What do They do?

For years, tooth sealants have been used in dental care for children to prevent tooth decay. This routine preventative measure plays a large role in the oral hygiene of children whom it is applied to, but what are sealants, and what do they do?

Why Dental Sealants?

The way that sealants prevent tooth decay is by creating a barrier that makes it impossible for cavities to develop by blocking bacteria from creating colonies on the teeth’s deep grooves. Bacteria are more likely to develop in hard to reach places which children typically have an even harder time at keeping clean. Sealants can be applied to molars when they first come in because children have special difficulty keeping the back teeth clean and free of cavities.

Thankfully, these sealants aren’t obvious. They can be tooth-colored to reduce their visibility. Tooth sealants are typically made up of resin or glass ionomer (GIC).

Dental Sealant Application

The application of tooth sealants is quite easy. Once the teeth are cleaned, the liquid sealant is applied to the teeth and subsequently cured, or hardened, into place on the surface of the teeth. Sealants are safe and completely BPA free. They present no risk of BPA exposure to sensitive children.

How Long Do Sealants Last?

Tooth sealants are surprisingly long-lasting. They can last longer than five years, and resin-based sealants are thought to last even longer, possibly into adulthood. They are designed to withstand any amount of food and beverage consumption are not affected negatively by your everyday soda drinking. Also, although the glass ionomer sealants might not last as long, they have the benefit of slowly releasing fluoride, which strengthens the teeth over time.

Sealants are typically recommended for children and people who have a high risk of cavities. The ADA recommends that all children receive sealants. However, there is not significant evidence that sealants help to reduce adult tooth decay significantly. It is rare for them to be applied to adults.