Teeth sealants are a dental treatment which is a thin, plastic coating that gets painted on the surface of each tooth. The back teeth usually receive this option, but it is also possible to apply it to the entire smile as well. The goal of this product is to prevent tooth decay in combination with regular brushing, flossing, and other oral health activities.
The sealant for the teeth quickly bonds to the depressions and grooves of each tooth, forming a protective shield that proactively works to prevent enamel decay. Even though regular brushing removes plaque and food particles from the smooth surfaces of each tooth, it does not always get into the varies corners and ridges that some teeth can have – especially along the premolars and molars.
Teeth sealants work to protect these areas of vulnerability by sealing out the ability for food particles or plaque to reach them.
Children and teens are the usual candidates for sealants because of the likelihood of developing decay in their molar depressions. Adults who do not have fillings in their molars or decay issues can benefit from the presence of this product as well. Most applications occur between the ages of 6-14.
List of the Pros of Teeth Sealants
1. It provides an effective barrier against potential decay issues before they begin.
The reason why the molars tend to be the target of teeth sealants is because of their shape and composition. These back teeth have natural fissures and pits that help you to grind food as you chew it. That design makes it easier for bacteria and food particles to get caught in the various pockets which are back there. Even great brushing techniques will not always remove all of the substances which may cause decay.
The sealant material is made from a liquid resin that dries clear, hardening as it dries to create an effective layer of protection.
2. You can hardly notice their presence.
Most kids and teens will say that their mouth feels a little funny after having the sealants applied to their teeth, but it is a change that most adjust to without much of an issue. Once the dentist applies the product, it is virtually impossible for the average person to know that someone has them. Since they are especially beneficial for kids who struggle to brush their back teeth effectively, this product can offer them a substantial boost in confidence because their mouth stays healthier.
3. Kids can still use fluoride products with teeth sealants.
Although some parents and guardians prefer to avoid fluoride products, those who prefer to use them as part of their regular dental hygiene routine find that it can help to strengthen teeth while preventing decay issues that can lead to cavities. You can continue to receive the benefits that it provides to your oral health after the placement of teeth sealants. Whether you receive it from your municipal drinking water or from direct treatments, this combination of factors can help to provide a significant boost to the health of a child’s teeth.
4. Treating oral problems in kids stops health problems for them as an adult.
There is a direct link between oral health and multiple systems in the body. Even your heart benefits from the presence of a clean and strong smile. Multiple studies have come to the same conclusion from a variety of different perspectives about the presence of tooth sealants: by protecting the tooth today, it can help to ward off problems when those children become adults.
Poor oral health can also impact the employment opportunities of an individual, reduce their social opportunities, and rob them of their self-confidence.
5. It can protect healthy teeth from decaying ones.
Kids and adults can encounter tooth decay at almost any time. All it takes is a few missed brushing opportunities on the back molars to create this problem. If your dentist detects that you have a healthy tooth in the back, but there are three molars experiencing significant decay issues, then a sealant on the good one can help to prevent a future cavity from occurring. This product can reduce the risk of ongoing oral health issues for people with a high propensity of cavities if the best teeth receive protection.
6. Teeth sealants are a long-term solution for most people.
The average teeth sealant when correctly applied will last for at least 5 years, including products that are BPA-free. Some people can have them last for 10 years if they work hard at their oral health routine. One of the fastest ways for them to prematurely disappear is if you grind your teeth a lot, so if you are dealing with an issue of bruxism, it may be helpful to wear a mouthguard of some type when you go to bed to maintain your sealants better.
7. You can continue updating your sealants.
Most adults allow themselves to outgrow their sealants, but this isn’t an action that you must take. Your dentist can apply another set to the original if they are not working as they should – assuming that there is no decay on the tooth to worry about beforehand. You can also have sealants repaired if there are significant chips in the material, although this does come at the per-tooth cost for maintenance.
List of the Cons of Teeth Sealants
1. Some teeth sealants may contain trace amounts of BPA.
Because a sealant procedure is usually given to children and teens, their safety is a top priority for dentists, parents, and guardians alike. When you take a look at the pros and cons of teeth sealants, the concern of BPA is raised because the resin is a liquid plastic product. BPA is a synthetic compound which you can find in numerous plastic products at trace levels, despite its ban throughout most of the world.
The exposure to large amounts of BPA is harmful to the health. Sealants may contain trace levels of this substance that would sit on the teeth. Although the American Dental Association notes that the average person receives more exposure through their encounter with everyday products than they do with the sealant, some may still wish to ask about alternative options.
2. The cost of teeth sealants is prohibitive for some families.
If you have dental insurance for your family, then there is a good chance that the teeth sealants for your kids is a covered service. There might be a copay or some co-insurance to pay, but that would be the extent of your financial responsibility. For the families paying out-of-pocket for this service, most providers charge less for this service than treating a cavity or managing a root canal. It typically runs about $60 per tooth in the United States, although some clinics might charge half of that.
Only 20% of children who come from a low-income family in the United States have teeth sealants on their molars at the bare minimum. In high-income households, that figure rises to 40%, but overall, it is still less than half of the kids in the U.S. who have this product.
3. Only a dentist can accurately apply a tooth sealant.
About 1 in 10 people (including kids) avoid going to the dentist because if various fears, ranging from the flavor of the products used to the pain of drilling and gum work. Going to the dentist is a significant disadvantage for some people because of this issue, and putting sealants on does take about an hour in most circumstances.
There is no guarantee that you’ll get cavities if you opt out of the idea of a tooth sealant, but you will need drilling to clear out any decayed material if you do get one. Since this product paints onto the tooth, there is minimal discomfort with the procedure.
4. Sealants could work to seal in decay that already exists.
If you already have a cavity or an issue with decay and the dentist puts the teeth sealant product in place, then there is a chance that the resin could injure the tooth more than it would help. Dentists proactively work to stop this concern before it starts by examining each tooth before applying the product. It is not unusual for a full set of x-rays and a complete dental examination to take place as well. Then you’ll need to continue caring for your teeth as you have in the past to ensure that there is always a healthy smile in place.
5. Teeth sealants are a temporary solution.
When you start to evaluate the pros and cons of teeth sealants, then it is essential to remember that this product does not last forever. Most people can have them stay in place for about 5-10 years, although they hold up even longer for those who care for them adequately. Dentists will check on them at every visit, and then let you know when they need to be replaced so that you can continue to prevent decay.
Compared to the cost of installing multiple fillings because of cavities, teeth sealants are usually a better deal. Think of it as an investment in your future oral health more than a present-day expense.
6. It will not protect you from unhealthy eating habits.
The American Dental Association says that adding a sealant to a single tooth can reduce the risk of a cavity developing by up to 86% in the first 12 months. When you extend that timing to 4 years, then the risk of developing a decay issue will decline by almost 60%. If you go out to the full 10 years, the success rate actually rises to 90%. That’s why so many dentists recommend this procedure.
You will only receive these health benefits if your eating habits are not contributing to a high incidence of tooth decay. That means you and your children most avoid frequent snacking on sugary foods or beverages. You must work on healthy brushing habits at the same time while considering a change away from bottled water if possible.
7. Dental insurance will not cover adult sealants.
If you carry dental insurance, then most policies will cover the cost of a teeth sealant for children without much difficulty. Some plans even provide this service without a copay because of the amount of money it can save in preventing the need for future treatments. The same advantage is not present for adults if your dentist recommends this product. You will likely need to pay full price for the service, which could get pricey if you have more than 5 teeth that require service.
8. The resin for the dental sealant may not creating a strong bond.
Dentists are using adhesive or acid-etching systems as a way to increase the rate of retention for teeth sealants. Over a four-year clinical study as reported by DentistryIQ, the sealant provided to patients was fully retained 50% of the time on all paired permanent teeth at 4 years. At the same time, 95% of the pit regions that received coverage were rated as having a severe loss of substance. The primary culprit of this problem is saliva that mixes with the resin during the application process.
9. Incorrect placement can lead to enamel abolition.
If the dentist does not correctly place teeth sealants for any reason, then the enamel of the tooth in question can become compromised at times. Normal wear-and-tear may occur on an occlusal surface and start to chip. That would create a circumstance where the tooth could harbor bacteria and decay. Since the failure rate can sometimes be quite high, it may not be worth the cost for some families to have this procedure completed since it may lead to future cavities anyway.
Verdict on the Teeth Sealants Pros and Cons
Teeth sealants may create some concerns since they are painted on as a hardening resin, but they can do an excellent job of reducing the risk of a cavity. Although decay issues are not 100% guaranteed to disappear, an investment in this product can reduce the pain and discomfort of a cavity while preventing the high costs of a filling, root canal, and crown.
The pros and cons of teeth sealants are essential to consider for parents and guardians because it can help the back molars stay healthier than without them. If you can afford the cost or your insurance will cover it for you, then a conversation with your dentist about these key points will help you to determine if this option is the best one for your family.