How Long Do Dental Sealants Last: A Guide To Healthy Teeth

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Your teeth are meant to last a lifetime; do not let them be ruined. We are living in an era where fast food is a regular routine. When the routine becomes unhealthy, it starts affecting your teeth, leading to tooth decay and cavities.

In the midst of such a situation, there is an option to save your teeth from bacteria and keep them pearl white. Dental sealants can be used to protect your teeth from damage. But what are they, and how long do sealants last?

What Are Dental Sealants?

According to WebMD:

“Dental sealant is a thin, plastic coating painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth — usually the back teeth (the premolars and molars) — to prevent tooth decay.”

Dental sealants are a preventative dental procedure that protects the chewing surfaces of your back teeth, particularly the premolars and molars. These thin, liquid coatings serve as a protective barrier, effectively sealing the natural grooves and pits in your teeth where germs may grow.

Why Do You Need Dental Sealant?

It is clear that sealants are there to protect your teeth; however, let’s have a look at some of the reasons why you need dental sealants.

Protection Against Cavities

Dental sealants provide a protective barrier against cavities, particularly in the hard-to-reach regions of your back teeth.

The chewing surfaces of the molars and premolars frequently include grooves and pits that trap food particles and microorganisms.

Sealants produce a smooth surface, making it more difficult for cavity-causing chemicals to adhere. Sealants operate as a barrier, preventing the growth of cavities and contributing to long-term dental health.

Long-Lasting Defense

Dental sealants, once placed and properly cured, provide a long-lasting and effective barrier against tooth decay.

Sealants have a variable lifetime, although they often last many years. This extended protection is especially useful for children and teens, whose growing teeth may be more susceptible to cavities. Adults, however, can benefit from the long-lasting protection given by dental sealants.

Cost-Effective Dental Care

Investing in dental sealants might be an affordable preventive step. Sealants reduce the risk of cavities, allowing you to avoid the costs associated with more expensive dental treatments like fillings or crowns.

Sealants can help you save money in the long term by reducing the need for corrective operations and encouraging a proactive attitude toward preserving your dental health.

How Long Do Sealants Last?

According to NIDCR research, sealant can last up to 10 years; however, it needs to be checked every few months to ensure that it is still doing its job. In some cases, sealants do not last long, and the patients need to change them more frequently. It can be due to several reasons, including the sealant material and diet of the patient.

The effectiveness of the sealant may decrease over the years, leading to more dental problems. Therefore, you must make yourself aware of how long do dental sealants last and keep visiting your dentist regularly to rule out any possible issues.

Factors Affecting The Life of Your Dental Sealants

The longevity and effectiveness of dental sealants can be influenced by various factors.

Understanding these factors is essential for maximizing the benefits of sealant application:

Poor Oral Hygiene

Maintaining proper oral hygiene is critical to the lifespan of dental sealants.

Inadequate brushing and flossing can cause plaque and bacteria to build up around the sealant, undermining its protective barrier. Regular and thorough oral hygiene practices assist in maintaining the sealant’s integrity and prevent the formation of cavities in regions around the treated teeth.

Hard Foods

Chewing on hard foods, especially with the back teeth, where sealants are commonly applied, can impact their longevity. Persistent exposure to hard or crunchy substances may contribute to the gradual wear and breakdown of the sealant material over time. While sealants are durable, minimizing excessive force on treated teeth by avoiding overly hard foods can help extend their lifespan.

Sugary Drinks

Consuming sugary drinks can pose a threat to dental sealants. Sugars in beverages can contribute to the growth of bacteria and acid production, potentially undermining the protective qualities of the sealant. Limiting the intake of sugary drinks and practicing good oral hygiene can work in tandem to preserve the effectiveness of the sealant and prevent the development of cavities.

Sealant Material

The type and quality of the sealant material used can impact its durability. Different sealant materials may have varying resistance to wear and tear. Dentists typically choose materials known for their durability and effectiveness, but it’s essential to discuss options and understand the specific characteristics of the sealant applied to your teeth.

Quality of Application

The skill and precision with which the dental sealant is applied play a significant role in its longevity. A well-executed application ensures that the sealant forms a tight bond with the tooth surface, providing optimal protection. Regular dental check-ups can help identify any issues with the sealant’s application and allow for timely adjustments or reapplication if necessary.

What Foods Should Be Avoided With Sealants?

Here’s an easy way to remember the foods to avoid after sealing.

Foods to Avoid with SealantsType of FoodEffects on Sealants
CaramelStickyAdheres to sealants, creating a potential for bacterial growth and decay.
Gummy CandyChewyCan pull on sealants and may contribute to their premature wear.
ToffeeStickySimilar to caramel, it can stick to sealants, increasing the risk of decay.
Jawbreakers and Other Hard CandyHardExcessive force from biting hard candy may lead to sealant breakdown.
LicoriceChewySimilar to gummy candy, it can pull on sealants and impact their longevity.
LollipopsStickyResidue from sticky lollipops can adhere to sealants, promoting decay.

So if you are asking, “Can you eat after sealants?” the answer to this is – yes. However, you need to avoid sticky and hard food.

Dental Sealants Vs Fillings

Many people get confused between dental sealant and fillings. Here’s an easy difference of dental sealing vs filling:

CriteriaDental SealantsDental Fillings
PurposePreventive measure to protect teeth from cavities by sealing grooves.Corrective measure to treat existing cavities by filling and restoring tooth structure.
Material UsedTypically a plastic resin or glass ionomer cement.Various materials, including amalgam (silver), composite (tooth-colored), and porcelain.
Application ProcessApplied as a liquid and then cured to form a protective coating on the tooth’s surface.Requires removal of decayed tooth structure and filling the cavity with restorative material.
Treatment TimeQuick and non-invasive, usually completed in one dental visit.Longer process may require multiple visits depending on the extent of the decay.
Pain or DiscomfortVirtually painless; no drilling or removal of tooth structure involved.May involve drilling and removal of decayed tooth material, causing some discomfort.
Age GroupCommonly used for children and teenagers as a preventive measure.Applicable to individuals of all ages, addressing existing cavities.
CostGenerally more cost-effective than fillings, especially when considering prevention.Cost may vary based on the type of filling material used; generally more expensive than sealants.
DurabilityLong-lasting, providing protection for several years with proper care.Durable, but may require replacement over time, especially if the filling wears or breaks.
Aesthetic ConsiderationClear or tooth-colored, aesthetically less noticeable.Color-matched to the tooth for a natural appearance, but may be visible in certain cases.
Cavity TreatmentDoes not treat existing cavities; focuses on prevention.Specifically designed to treat and fill cavities, restoring the tooth’s structure.

Does Dental Sealant Hurt?

One of the most commonly asked questions is “Does Dental Sealant Hurt?” The dental sealant procedure is simple and absolutely painless.

After cleaning the teeth, a gel may be placed temporarily to the chewing surface. The sealant, which is rubbed onto the teeth, may generate little pressure during application, although this sensation usually passes soon.

Any initial pain from the new sealant material should subside within a few days as your mouth adjusts. After roughly three days, you should not perceive a difference between your teeth before and after the sealant treatment.

Maintenance Tips for Dental Sealant Longevity

Let’s have a look at them:

  • Use a good mouthwash to maintain oral hygiene and support the longevity of dental sealants.
  • Brush and floss twice a day to keep your teeth clean and reduce the risk of decay around sealants.
  • Schedule regular checkups with your dentist to ensure the ongoing effectiveness of the sealants.
  • Avoid chewing on hard objects to prevent potential damage to the sealant material.
  • Refrain from using toothpaste with abrasives, as this can compromise the integrity of the sealants.
  • If you have sealants, avoid toothpaste with fluoride, as it may not be necessary and could affect the sealant’s efficacy.

Conclusion

To summarize, the lifespan of dental sealants is determined by a variety of factors, including the quality of the sealant material, effective application by a qualified dental expert, and individual oral hygiene routines.

Dental sealants have been shown to provide long-term protection against cavities, with a lifetime extending from 5 to 10 years. However, it is critical to note that everyone’s experience will differ depending on their oral care routines and lifestyle choices.

Regular dental check-ups and expert assessments are essential for monitoring the state of sealants and ensuring timely replacements when needed.

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