Preventative dental sealants in Suffolk County

What if there was a way to reduce your chances of getting cavities in some of the most decay-prone spaces in your smile? There is, thanks to dental sealants.


Sealants are protective coatings that we place on the chewing surfaces of molars (back teeth). They fill in the narrow grooves and fissures, which are often too tight to clean even with the smallest toothbrush bristle. By sealing them off, you can enjoy a smoother and shallower area to clean with your toothbrush each day. In turn, you’ll get to enjoy a much lower risk of decay.


When to Use Dental Sealants


Since they’re a preventative therapy, sealants can only be used on healthy teeth that do not have cavities. They’re meant to help you avoid decay before it ever has a chance to form. Combined with other preventative services—like cleanings and fluoride treatments—sealants are part of a comprehensive care approach to combatting tooth decay before it starts.


Best Age to Get a Sealant

The typical standard of care is to seal permanent molars as soon as they erupt through the gums. This stage of development usually occurs around the ages of 6 and 12, respectively. The first and second permanent molars (back teeth) usually erupt at these two phases of development, helping us plan ahead for sealants as your child continues to grow.


Although 6 and 12-year olds make up the majority of dental sealant patients, sealants can also be placed later on if necessary. Keep in mind that some children may fall a year or so behind when teeth erupt, so this milestone is meant more as a guideline.


Can I Get a Sealant Instead of a Filling?


Unfortunately, sealants do not work for treating and restoring areas of tooth decay. Sealants can only be used on top of healthy enamel. They are not able to go inside of decayed tooth structure to repair or rebuild that area of the tooth. In those instances, a small dental filling will be necessary.


If your child’s tooth is beginning to show signs of demineralization or has especially deep grooves, it’s important to go ahead and have sealants placed before a physical cavity erodes their tooth enamel.


What to Expect if You’re Getting Sealants


Getting a dental sealant only takes about 2-3 minutes from start to finish. If we’re sealing two molars immediately next to one another, the sealants can be placed at the same time.


Screening—Most dental sealants are placed during your child’s regular checkup appointment, or a short visit scheduled a few weeks later. During your child’s exam, our Long Island dentist or hygienist will determine if they make a good candidate for sealants and if sealants would be beneficial for their unique needs.


Treatment Plan—The majority of dental insurance plans cover sealants by 100% up to the age of 14. Our treatment coordinators will verify your coverage and let you know of any fees that might be incurred if you don’t have sealant benefits.


Prep—Sealants must have a completely dry environment for them to bond correctly. We’ll use special absorbent pads or cotton rolls to isolate the tooth that’s being sealed.


Next, the tooth is gently conditioned with a light etching material. This step preps the outermost layer of enamel to make it easier for the sealant to bond with your tooth. The tooth is thoroughly rinsed and dried, and absorbent pads/cotton are replaced to ensure that the tooth stays dry.


Placement—Sealant material is lightly applied to the chewing surfaces of the prepped molars, allowing the liquid material to flow into the narrow crevices until the entire area is coated.


Finally, a bright light is applied to the tooth (or teeth) for several seconds, curing the sealant material so that it hardens into place. Our dentist or hygienist will check the sealant to make sure it’s affixed correctly and then you’ll be on your way!


Side Note: Since sealants add an extremely thin layer on top of your tooth, it’s common for your bite to feel slightly higher than normal at first. This sensation typically goes away after a few days as the material wears down from chewing.


Are Dental Sealants Permanent?


No. Although dental sealants are a long-lasting preventative treatment, they are not permanently attached to your teeth the way fillings are. If you were to eat something extremely sticky—such as taffy or caramel—it could actually pull a sealant off of your tooth.


The best way to extend the lifespan of your sealant is to avoid eating super sticky foods. During your checkup, we’ll evaluate the sealants to determine if anything needs to be touched up or replaced.


How to Care for Sealants


Even if you have sealants you still need to brush and floss each day. Sealants don’t protect the spaces in-between the teeth, they only make it easier to clean and maintain healthy enamel on the chewing surfaces. Be sure to schedule regular checkups every six months so that our Long Island dentists can evaluate your sealants as the years go by.


Sealant Costs: Are They Covered by Dental Insurance?


Most dental insurance plans cover protective sealants at 100% under their preventative care benefits. However, coverage usually cuts off around age 14, which is about two years after the final set of permanent molars erupts.


Fortunately, the cost of dental sealants is extremely minimal. Meaning that even if you don’t have insurance coverage, they’re fairly easy to afford. So if you’re an adult who wants to get sealants and they’re not covered by your policy, the minimal investment can still save you hundreds of dollars in potential treatment later on if you were to get a cavity.


Request an Appointment Today


Although most of our dental sealants candidates are children, adults can also request sealants if they qualify. Most sealants are placed during or right after your routine checkup appointment. If you’re interested in this effective preventative service, contact our Suffolk County dentists to make an appointment.