Category: Spring 2010
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Sealants guard teeth against decay-causing bacteria
July 10, 2010
Children typically have dental sealants applied on permanent back teeth as soon as the teeth come in – protecting against tooth decay through the cavity-prone years of ages 6 to 14.
Things to know
Sealants are a thin plastic coating painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth that bonds to the pits and grooves. This helps shield the enamel of each tooth from the plaque and food particles that can settle in depressions and cause cavities.
Sealants can save time, money, and the discomfort sometimes associated with dental fillings. In addition, sealants can be clear, white, or slightly tinted, and usually aren't seen when a child talks or smiles.
How sealants are applied
Application is short and painless:
- The teeth that are to be sealed are thoroughly cleaned
- After each tooth is dried, cotton or another absorbent material is put around the tooth to keep it dry
- A special gel is briefly placed on the chewing surface
- Teeth are rinsed and dried
- Sealant is painted on the tooth enamel, where it bonds to the tooth and hardens in about a minute
- A light may be shined on the tooth to help harden the sealant
- Sealants can protect the teeth from decay for up to 10 years. During regular dental checkups, the dentist will check for chipping or wearing, and may replace the sealants if needed.
Dental benefits for sealants
Your dental plan may provide benefits for sealants for children. Check your coverage details documents or call Humana Customer Care.
Sources: The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.