Have you ever taken your child to the dentist and had them tell you your child has groovy teeth? When permanent adult molars come in, they often have deep pits and grooves, thus making them “groovy” and more prone to cavities. That’s where sealants come in. Sealants are a simple, safe, inexpensive and a very effective way to help protect teeth against cavities.
A sealant is a thin, clear protective coating that is painted on the chewing surface of the back molars. The sealant fills in all the pits and grooves, so food will not get caught in them. It often is recommended for patients when their permanent, 6-year-old molars are completely erupted, and again when the 12-year-old molars are fully erupted.
You might wonder, if sealants are so good, why wait to recommend them until around the age of 6? The reason dentists often hold off on recommending them is because baby teeth don’t usually have deep pits and grooves like adult teeth. Also, while applying sealants, it is important to keep the tooth dry, which can be hard for younger children.
Sealants don’t last forever, but they serve an important purpose. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dental sealants prevent 80% of cavities for two years in the back teeth, where nine in 10 cavities occur.
While sealants normally are recommended only for kids, they are just as helpful for adults. Oftentimes, they are not discussed with adults because most insurance companies stop covering sealants as you age, which makes it an out-of-pocket expense for the patient. Adults should talk to their dentist about sealants, as they are much cheaper than a filling and are noninvasive.
– Dr. Marable completed her pediatric residency at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She is a board-certified pediatric dentist practicing at Woodstock Dental Town. 678-224-5722.