The biting surfaces of molars have deep grooves that act like tiny traps for food particles. It’s just about impossible for a toothbrush to get into these tiny crevices and grooves in order to clean them out thoroughly, so this is a common place for tooth decay to occur. Sealants are thin plastic coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of back teeth, filling in the grooves and crevices and effectively smoothing them out to eliminate the food trap. Sealants work like a protective shield by filling in these grooves in the enamel and keeping food out.
Sealants are typically applied at a cleaning appointment to freshly cleaned teeth that are prepared with an acid etching of the enamel to enhance the grooves of the surface. The sealing material is then applied to the prepared surface like a varnish and bonds with the enamel by filling in all the little grooves.
Most insurance plans provide coverage for sealants for children. That’s because sealants are most effective when applied while the tooth is still new and without decay. Children and teens are great candidates for sealants, but adults with sound teeth can benefit from sealants as well in some cases. Deeply grooved baby teeth can sometimes benefit from sealants too, to help keep out decay and keep them healthy until it’s time for adult teeth to replace them. Even when not covered by insurance, a preventative sealant is less expensive than an eventual filling – a worthwhile investment.
Sealants are subject to wear-and-tear, but they can last for years. A good way to get the most out them is avoid things like chewing ice or hard candy or anything that can cause unnecessary breakage to the material. (<- This is true even if you don’t have sealants- hard candy and ice are hard enough to break teeth and should never be chewed!)
So now you know how sealants make a great barrier of protection over the tiny impossible-to-clean grooves in the chewing surfaces of back teeth. We encourage you to take advantage of that and get sealants for your child’s teeth! As the old saying goes, “An once of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, and since Mall of Georgia Dentistry is always looking after your smile, don’t be surprised if sealants are recommended at your child’s next visit!