Sealants and Fluoride

Woman getting fluoride treatmentWhat are dental sealants?

Dental sealants are a preventive treatment applied as a thin, clear, protective coating that is brushed onto the teeth to prevent acid and harmful bacteria from wearing down natural tooth enamel. Most dental sealants also contain fluoride to strengthen and protect teeth.

Dental sealants are applied to the teeth like a varnish, using a very small brush to carefully cover all surfaces of each tooth. The procedure takes only about a half-hour and is completely painless.


What is fluoride?

Fluoride is a mineral used to strengthen the teeth and protect tooth enamel from wearing down due to exposure to oral bacteria and acids that are present in certain foods and beverages.

Fluoride is especially necessary for growing children who don’t always practice proper oral hygiene because it protects tooth enamel even before the teeth erupt through the gums.


How does fluoride protect teeth?

Fluoride treatments may be applied directly to the teeth in the form of a clear gel or sealant that is brushed on like varnish, or it may be applied as a gel or foam in a mouthguard. Fluoride supplements may also be taken orally in liquid and/or tablet form.


Do dental sealants protect teeth?

According to a CDC report published in 2016, dental sealants applied to molars effectively reduced the likelihood of developing tooth decay by about 80%. The report found that school-age children without dental sealants develop almost three times as many cavities as children protected with dental sealants.

The report recommends the use of dental sealants in school-aged children as prevention against tooth decay. The report also noted that only about 43% of children aged 6-11 are protected with dental sealants, even though the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends the application of dental sealants as part of routine preventive pediatric dental care.


How often should dental sealants be reapplied?

Dental sealants may last as long as 10 years, providing efficient protection for your teeth during that period. Over time, sealants may chip or wear down, requiring touch-ups or reapplication. During your dental examination, Dr. Harding will check the condition of any existing dental sealants, and reapply them as necessary.


Who should get dental sealants?

The ADA recommends dental sealants for children aged 5 to 14 years of age. These may be applied as soon as the permanent molars grow in, which typically occurs between the ages of 5 and 7. Once the child’s new, permanent molars grow in, typically between the ages of 11 and 14, a second application of dental sealants is recommended.

Dental sealants are standard preventive treatment in pediatric dentistry, however, adults can also benefit from dental sealants. If your diet contains lots of sugary foods, or if you regularly drink highly acidic beverages such as coffee, wine, or soft drinks, it may be advisable to protect your teeth, and especially your molars, with dental sealants to prevent your natural tooth enamel from wearing down. Dental sealants are also recommended for those with sensitive teeth.