Sealants and Fluoride

What are dental sealants?

Dental sealants are a thin, protective coating that is applied onto the teeth to prevent cavities from forming. Most dental sealants are clear and many sealants also contain fluoride.

Are dental sealants effective?

In a report published by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in October 2016, dental sealants were found to effectively reduce the risk of tooth decay in molars by nearly 80%.

While the report stressed the importance of using dental sealants as a preventive pediatric treatment among school-aged children, researchers found that only 43% of children ages 6-11 have dental sealants, in spite of American Dental Association (ADA) recommendations that routine dental well-care for children should include the application of dental sealants.

According to the CDC report, “School-age children without sealants have almost three times more cavities than children with sealants.”

How are dental sealants applied?

Sealants are applied like a coat of paint, using a tiny brush to meticulously coat all surfaces of each tooth. The procedure takes about 30 minutes and is painless.

How long do dental sealants last?

Sealants may protect your teeth for as long as 10 years, but depending on your dietary habits, they may chip or wear down during that period, requiring touch-ups or reapplication. Dr. Emily or Dr. Patrick will check the condition of your dental sealants at each check-up, and reapply them as needed.

Who should get dental sealants?

The ADA recommends dental sealants for children from 5 to 14 years of age. Dental sealants may be applied as soon as your child’s first permanent molars grow in, typically between the ages of 5 and 7. A second set of sealants is usually applied once the child’s new, permanent molars come in, usually between the ages of 11 and 14.

While dental sealants are standard treatment in preventive dentistry for children, this does not mean that adults cannot benefit from sealants. If you eat a diet that’s particularly high in sugary foods, or if you regularly consume acidic beverages such as coffee, soft drinks, or wine, speak to Dr. Patrick or Dr. Emily about the possibility of protecting your teeth, and particularly your molars, with dental sealants.

What is fluoride and how does it contribute to dental health?

Fluoride is a mineral that strengthens the teeth and protects delicate tooth enamel from wearing down as a result of exposure to excessive acid in food and harmful oral bacteria. Fluoride is especially important to children’s developing teeth, as it helps to protect delicate tooth enamel even before teeth break through the gums, and because children don’t always brush or floss as thoroughly as they should.

In patients whose tooth enamel is severely worn, Dr. Emily and Dr. Patrick may also apply a concentrated fluoride treatment directly to the teeth in the form of a gel or varnish. This is brushed on like paint, or applied with a gel or foam via the use of a mouthguard. They may also prescribe fluoride supplements as liquids and/or tablets that may be taken orally.