Pros and Cons of Dental Sealants and Fluoride

Posted on: May 20, 2019 | Patient Education

The Pros and Cons of Dental Sealants and Fluoride

Good oral health has increased thanks to better access to dental care and hygiene, yet tooth decay is still a common problem affecting children and adults. Dental sealants and fluoride treatments are two methods dentists use to reduce the incidence of tooth decay in children and adults. These can be used together or separately, depending on which treatments are best for you or your child. In this blog post, we’ll explain the pros and cons of dental sealants and fluoride. Keep in mind that each person is unique, and it’s best to talk to your dentist about dental sealants and fluoride before making your final decision.

The Pros and Cons of Dental Sealants and Fluoride

Dental sealants and fluoride are both used to prevent tooth decay. However, they work in individual ways. When it comes to protecting your teeth, your decision will be based on the way each works and other factors, such as your dental insurance coverage.

Dental Sealants

A dental sealant is a thin layer of resin that covers the surface of your teeth. It’s used most commonly on the back molars of children, since their oral hygiene habits are newly developing and the tight grooves and pockets of their new teeth are harder for bristles to reach into. This layer of resin acts as extra protection against bacteria, and prevents cavities from forming.


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Pro: Dental Sealants are ADA Recommended

In an article on dental sealants, states, “For a number of years, the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs has recommended placing sealants on the primary and permanent molars of all children and adolescents to prevent [cavities].” Sealants have been found to reduce the risk of cavities by as much as 80%.

Pro: Sealants Are More Effective Than Fluoride Varnish Alone

pros and cons of dental sealants

Fluoride treatments are essential for protecting teeth throughout a person’s life. Fluoride varnish and treatments are generally used for all teeth, while sealants are usually used on the back teeth. However, three studies including nearly 2,000 participants showed that sealants reduced the risk of cavities by 73% compared to those who used fluoride varnishes alone.

Pro: Dental Sealants are Long-Lasting

A notable pro of dental sealants is their long life. Dental sealants generally last at least four years, and can last up to ten. During this time, it is still important to see your dentist regularly to make sure the dental sealant is not damaged. As long as the sealant is still intact, your teeth are protected.

Con: Sealants are Covered for Children Only

Dental sealants are widely considered preventative care for children, so they are usually covered by dental insurance. However, this is not always the case for adults. Before getting your teeth sealed, it’s best to review your dental coverage plan, call your provider, or ask your dentist office if they can verify your insurance for you.

Here at Boston Dental Group, we offer discounts on sealants for both children and adults alike. Please schedule an appointment and include your inquiry about sealants in your additional comments.

Fluoride Treatment

While dental sealants protect the teeth from bacteria and acid, fluoride treatments work to strengthen and rebuild teeth. Fluoride is a naturally-occurring ion found all over the natural world, including in mineral deposits, fresh water, and in oceans. For over 70 years, most municipal water sources in the U.S. have been treated with fluoride, which has helped to reduce tooth decay throughout the country. Dentists apply fluoride treatments to give teeth additional protection and restore small pockets created by bacteria. Fluoride treatments can be used alone or in addition to dental sealants.


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Pro: Fluoride Treatments are Standard Care

There are many different types of fluoride treatments, but this technique to restore and protect teeth is generally considered standard care by dentists. Fluoride is well-studied, safe, relatively inexpensive, and easy to access at nearly any dentist office.

Pro: Fluoride is a Simple Application

Fluoride treatments are easy for dentists to apply and easy for younger patients to sit through. Fluoride foam, gel or varnish is applied to teeth, then rinsed off. Flavor additives can make fluoride easier for younger patients. Patients will be instructed not to eat or drink for a limited time so the fluoride can have maximized effects.

Pro: Fluoride Is Often Covered by Dental Insurance

Since fluoride treatments are considered essential care for both children and adults, they are covered by most dental insurance plans.

Con: Must be Reapplied

Unlike dental sealants, which provide years of protection, fluoride treatments must be reapplied at regular dental visits. Fluoride treatments will restore and strengthen teeth when they are applied, but they will not continue to protect teeth’s surfaces.

Con: Limited Protection

Fluoride treatments are ideal for ongoing preventative and limited restorative care, but they won’t be effective for correcting existing issues, like periodontal disease or cavities that are already significant. Other techniques like SRP or extraction may be necessary in these cases to prevent further decay.

Now that you know the basic pros and cons of dental sealants and fluoride, you’ll have a better idea of what treatments you may receive when you go to the dentist, or when you take your child.

If you have any questions on dental hygiene, which treatment is best for you, or for costs, insurance coverage and financing information, please contact us or schedule an appointment and we will help find the best care solution for your smile.

Boston Dental Group was founded in 2002, and is now one of the largest full-service dentist groups in southern Nevada. Our state-of-the-art dental offices are located all throughout Las Vegas and Henderson, as well as Lake Havasu.


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