Dental Sealants at Little Diamonds Dental In Arlington, VA

Proper oral care habits can help eliminate bacteria/plaque on your child’s teeth, which can help prevent cavities from forming. These habits include brushing twice daily with a non-abrasive, fluoride toothpaste and flossing at least once. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to clean teeth effectively, especially for children and teens.

The molars are the most difficult to clean, primarily due to the deep grooves on the chewing surfaces and their location in the mouth. Toothbrush bristles are often not enough to reach the bottom of the grooves to remove the bacteria, plaque, and food debris buildup.

However, Dr. Dinah Ghaly-Habib at Little Diamonds Dental in Arlington can help protect your child’s teeth from cavities with dental sealants. Dr. Ghaly-Habib is a Board Certified Pediatric Dentist who is committed to and passionate about children’s oral health. She believes that prevention is the key and understands that dental visits are often a source of anxiety for children. She strives to make sure that her patients are comfortable and that every visit is pleasant.

What are Dental Sealants?

What are Dental Sealants?

Dental sealants, also known as fissure sealants, are thin coverings used to partially fill the grooves in molars to make them easier to clean. This can help reduce your child’s risk of developing cavities on those teeth. While this procedure does not create a perfectly smooth surface, it does reduce the depth of the grooves, which prevents the accumulation of bacteria, plaque, and food debris.

Adults may also qualify for dental sealants, provided the teeth are healthy and not damaged/decayed.

Who Can Get Sealants?

While patients of any age can benefit from dental sealants, this procedure is often recommended for children and teens. The first molars erupt around the age of 6 and the second around the age of 12. By applying sealants to those teeth immediately, they can be kept cavity-free. Discuss this option with Dr. Ghaly-Habib to find out if sealants are right for your child.

How Do Dental Sealants Work?

How Do Sealants Work?

Bacteria and plaque collect along the gumline, between teeth, and in the grooves that are on the chewing surfaces of teeth. Bacteria feeds on plaque and food particles that get caught on the teeth. Then, they produce acid waste that eats through the tooth enamel and into the dentin and pulp. These holes are known as cavities.

Dental sealants create a barrier to prevent cavities from forming and may also be used in the early stages of tooth decay to prevent further damage instead of a dental filling.

The process of applying a dental sealant is simple and painful. It only takes a few minutes for your dentist or hygienist to apply the sealant material to each tooth. Here’s what you can expect:

  • The teeth will be thoroughly cleaned
  • Each tooth that is to be sealed will be dried and isolated with an absorbent material, such as cotton gauze
  • An etching solution will be applied to the affected teeth to roughen the chewing surface, which will allow the sealant to bond with the tooth
  • After a few seconds, the etching solution is washed off and the tooth is dried
  • The sealant material is painted into the grooves of the tooth

In some cases, the sealant material will cure within a few minutes without any extra attention. However, some sealants are “light-cured” and will harden when exposed to the curing light.

It is important to note that there are several different types of sealant materials. Some will require some grinding or adjustment after being applied to create an even bite.

How Long Do Sealants Last?

Dental sealants are designed to last for many years, just like dental fillings. Still, it is important to schedule regular check-ups for your child so that we can make sure that the sealant is still in place and not damaged.

If it chips/cracks, bacteria can get to the enamel and cause a cavity to develop. Sealants do wear out over time but can be repaired/replaced as needed.

It is important to note that sealants are not an alternative to proper oral hygiene. Teeth that are treated with sealants still need to be brushed twice daily with a non-abrasive, fluoride toothpaste. Talk with Dr. Ghaly-Habib and the team at Little Diamonds Dental about proper oral hygiene for your child. We will be glad to talk to you and your child to help them understand the importance of taking good care of their teeth.

Average Cost of Dental Sealants

On average, the cost of dental sealants ranges from $30 to $40 per tooth. If you have dental insurance, sealants may be covered for patients under the age of 18. If you do not have insurance, the cost of dental sealants is much lower than having to get dental fillings, root canal treatment, dental crowns, and other procedures in the future.

If you do not have dental insurance or if your insurance provider does not cover sealant, ask our office staff about financing options.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Dental Sealants

Dental sealants, much like any other dental procedure, has advantages and disadvantages.

The advantages of dental sealants include:

  • Acting as a barrier to prevent harmful bacteria from eating through tooth enamel
  • Quick and easy, painless procedure
  • Last for several years with proper care and maintenance
  • Most effective for molars and premolars
  • Can be used to protect baby teeth as well as permanent teeth
  • Cost-effective compared to alternatives such as dental fillings, dental crowns, and root canal treatment

The disadvantages of dental sealants are:

  • Small risk of allergic reaction
  • May cause choking if sealant becomes dislodged and swallowed
  • May trap food particles/bacteria if not properly cared for, increasing the risk of tooth decay and bad breath
  • Some insurance providers do not cover treatment

Alternatives to Dental Sealants

There are a few alternatives to dental sealants including:

Fluoride varnish, which can be applied by a dentist or hygienist. This option has been proven effective in cavity prevention and can be used on children that are not old enough for dental sealants.

Pit and Fissure Sealants, which are OTC and can be applied at home. However, it is important to note that these are not as effective as professional dental sealants and must be applied more often.

Schedule Your Child’s Dental Visit Today

Dr. Ghaly-Habib and the team at Little Diamonds Dental in Arlington strives to make each and every visit a pleasant experience for you and your child. We work with your child to help them feel comfortable and understand that we are here to help their teeth stay healthy.

Schedule your child’s dental check-up today by calling our office at (571) 281-8714 or visiting our website. Our office hours are Monday and Tuesday from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM, Wednesday through Friday from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and Saturday from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM. We look forward to getting to know you and your child and setting them up for a lifetime of oral health.

Dental Sealant FAQs

If you have any questions or concerns at any time about your child’s oral health or procedures, feel free to bring them up. We believe in the importance of understanding what is happening in your child’s mouth to keep them healthy. Below are a few of the questions that we are commonly asked about dental sealants:

What are dental sealants made of?

Typically, dental sealants are made of tooth-colored composite resin. In some cases, glass ionomer may be used. However, this material is not as durable and does not last as long.

Are dental sealants safe?

While dental sealants do have low levels of BPA, the American Dental Association has determined that they are safe. There are some dentists that claim to offer BPA-free sealants, but these are not approved by the ADA.

What is the purpose of dental sealants?

Dental sealants are used to fill the deep grooves in the chewing surface of the back molars. This makes the teeth easier to clean and reduces risk of tooth decay.

Are dental sealants necessary?

Dental sealants are not a required procedure, but they can be beneficial and help keep your child’s teeth cavity-free. However, it is important to note that sealants are not an alternative to proper oral care. Sealed teeth still need to be brushed and flossed as usual to prevent bacteria and plaque buildup.

Can dental sealants be placed on cavities?            

Yes, in some cases, dental sealants can be placed on cavities instead of dental fillings in the early stages to prevent further damage.

Does dental insurance cover dental sealants?

Since dental sealants are a preventive treatment, most dental insurance plans will cover the procedure. Our office staff will work with your provider to determine your coverage. If you do not have insurance, we do offer financing options.