Dental Sealants

Dental Sealants

Dental sealants are a preventative dental treatment that protects the molars and premolars from tooth decay. They work by effectively sealing out the bacteria that cause tooth decay by not allowing plaque or tartar to form where it is applied. Although dental sealants are commonly used on children, they can also be used on adults who struggle with brushing in the back of their mouth or who are at a higher risk for developing tooth decay. 

Did You Know?

The American Dental Association states that when applied to permanent molars, dental sealants can decrease the risk of developing cavities by 80%!

Frequently Asked Questions: 

Am I a candidate for dental sealants?

Computerized image of a molar

Candidates for dental sealants are individuals who are at a higher risk for developing tooth decay or for those who struggle with maintaining or executing a daily dental hygiene routine. Dental sealants are also routinely recommended for children because dental sealants will protect newly erupted molars as children learn how to properly brush and floss their teeth. To find out if dental sealants are an ideal preventative dental treatment for you or your child, schedule a consultation with one of our dentists at  Lifetime Dental Care today. 

What color are dental sealants?

In most cases, dental sealants are clear. However, some variations of dental sealants may be white or can be custom matched to your natural teeth color. 

What are dental sealants made from?

Two different tubes of dental sealants on a white background

There are four different types of sealants made from different materials: glass ionomer, resin-modified glass ionomer, polyacid-modified resins, and composite resin. These four different types of materials are divided by how they are applied to the tooth. Glass ionomers undergo an acid-base reaction to bond to the natural tooth surface, while composite resin must undergo a polymerization reaction that is activated by a dental curing light. Resin-modified glass ionomers and polyacid-modified resins, on the other hand, undergo a mix of both acid-base and polymerization reactions to bond to the natural tooth structure. 

Which type of dental sealant is best?

The best type of dental sealant is one that works best for your individual dental needs. During your dental consultation, our dentists will help you to determine what type of dental sealant will work best for you. At a glance here is some information about the two different types of dental sealants: 

Glass-Ionomer (acid-base reaction)

  • High acid-base bonding (only need a conditioner)
  • Less shrinkage when setting
  • High fluoride release
  • Low thermal expansion
  • Does not elongate well
  • More likely to remove moisture
  • Stiffer

Composite Resin (polymerization reaction)

  • Requires resin-dentin bonding with curing light
  • More shrinkage while setting
  • Less fluoride release
  • Less expansion
  • Can elongate
  • Less likely to remove moisture

Do dental sealants contain BPA?

Dental sealants may contain trace amounts of BPA for a few hours after their placement. While BPA is not a formula ingredient in dental materials, it can occur either as a by-product of the placement process or a left-over from the manufacturing process. The amounts of BPA possibly found in dental sealants are only about 0.001% and simply breathing in air exposes people to 100 times more BPA than this amount. For this reason, the FDA and ADA still support the use of dental sealants and consider them to be a safe, preventative treatment

What can I expect when having dental sealants placed at Lifetime Dental Care?

Dental sealants are rather easy to place because they are simply brushed on to the chewing surface of your teeth. However, to ensure that they bond with your tooth structure properly, there are a few preparations that need to be completed. 

The first preparation is to have your teeth professionally cleaned. This is an important step because it removes all the plaque, tartar, and bacteria from the surface of your teeth so that there is a clean surface being sealed. Next, an acidic gel will be spread over the chewing surface of your teeth to rough up the enamel to make it easier for the sealant to bond with it. 

Single tooth surrounded by a green dental dam

Once this gel has been rinsed, your teeth may be isolated within a dental dam and dried. It is highly important that your teeth remain dry during the placement of the sealant because moisture can affect the outcome. Only when your teeth are completely dry will the sealant be applied to your teeth. 

Depending on the type of sealant, it may need the use of a dental curing light to harden or it may begin to harden on its own. After the sealant has hardened, our dentists may ask you to bite and file any areas that are uneven or irritating. Because the sealant is completely hardened during your procedure and there is no need for dental anesthetics, you can return to your usual routine as soon as you leave our office. 

How long do dental sealants last?

Dental sealants provide the highest level of protection in the first 2-4 years, although they can be worn safely for up to 9 years. The American Dental Association notes that dental sealants reduce the risk of tooth decay by 80% in the first two years and 50% years three and four. After that, it is recommended to have your sealant reapplied to ensure the most benefits. 

It is also important to note that depending on your dental habits, your dental sealant may wear out faster, fall out, or chip. For example those who participate in damaging behaviors such as smoking, nail biting, ice chewing, using your teeth to open things, or teeth grinding are at a higher risk of damaging or prematurely wearing out their dental sealant. To make your sealant last longer, it is encouraged to eliminate these behaviors. If you grind or clench your teeth, however, you may need to speak with our dentists about a dental mouth guard to protect your teeth. 

How much do dental sealants cost?

On average, dental sealants cost around $110 per tooth. This is rather affordable as it is half the cost of a dental filling and a fraction of the cost of other restoration methods such as dental crowns. Also, if you have dental insurance, you may be able to obtain full or partial coverage for dental sealants because they are considered a preventive dental service. 

To maintain your general dental routine, schedule a consultation with one of our dentists at  Lifetime Dental Care today! Lifetime Dental Care serves residents of Woodbridge, VA and the surrounding areas. 


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