Taking good care of your teeth and overall oral health is a daily commitment. It's no fun crossing your fingers in hopes that you don't have a cavity every time you visit your dentist for a regular appointment. Dental sealants can be an easy way to ensure your teeth are protected from decay over the long run, but knowing more about dental sealant cost prior to the procedure can help you decide whether the treatment is right for you.
The Sealing Process
Dental sealants are typically applied to your teeth as a semi-permanent solution (sadly, they don't last forever) for preventing cavities and decay. To this end, sealant material is applied to your molars and premolars – generally on the chewing surfaces – to guard against the food particles that feed bacterial plaque. The process is simple and painless, and includes four main steps.
Nowadays, per the International Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry, many dentists use acrylic resin as the bonding material in dental sealants. Your dentist will first clean the tooth to be sealed with a pumice paste and then rinse and dry it. He or she will then use an etching solution to slightly roughen your tooth's surface, making it easier for the bonding material to adhere to the enamel, as explained by the Ohio Department of Health. Third, your dentist will rinse and dry your tooth once more and then apply a liquid form of the sealant to the biting surface of the tooth. Finally, a light is placed above the sealant to bond it to the tooth and it will harden.
Sealants can last for several years under normal wear and tear, but will need to be reapplied down the road.
When to Opt for Dental Sealants
When kids gain their permanent teeth, starting when they're about five and through their teenage years, it's generally a good time to think about dental sealants. Those who can benefit should get the procedure soon after their permanent teeth erupt in order to head off decay before it can start or spread. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), sealants can reduce cavities in children by as much as 60 percent for four years or more.
If it's been a while since your last treatment, you'll want to talk to your dentist during a normal checkup to find out whether it's time for a reapplication.
Cost Range of Dental Sealants
A dental sealant cost estimate can include just the desired teeth or factor in your cleaning, too. The cost can range from about $30 to $40 per tooth, the ADA reports, but can climb slightly in metropolitan areas. Check to see if your insurance covers sealant treatments. However, if you're on a budget or uninsured, you may want to check if your child's school (or one in the surrounding area) offers sealants and preventative programs as an extension of his or her enrollment as a student.
Sealant, Filling or Crown?
To maintain optimal oral health, good oral care means being preventative and proactive. Keep in mind that crowns and fillings are the result of some level of tooth decay and damage that has already occurred. And though there are many factors in the cost of a filling or crown – such as how many are needed and how much insurance you have – fillings can each cost about $110 to $240 on average, according to Dr. Gary Alex, DMD. Crowns can range between $1,000 to $3,500, as confirmed by Dr. Jacinthe M. Paquette, DDS.
Opting for dental sealant at your dentist's suggestion may make the most sense not only for your teeth, but also for your budget. Ultimately, maintaining great oral care between checkups by brushing twice a day with products like Colgate® Cavity Protection Toothpaste will help prevent cavities and support the sealant treatment after the fact. To ensure you're taking the best care of your smile, always check with your dentist about options for your teeth and the best aftercare for your sealant treatment.