Dental sealants can prevent childhood cavities.
Brushing and flossing at least twice a day are great oral habits to get into, but even with excellent brushing and flossing habits, your teeth still have many nooks and crannies where bacteria can find a place to call home. To help preserve their child’s teeth, and maybe save them some pain in the long run, parents have the choice of using dental sealants to prevent their child from developing cavities.
What are dental sealants?
A dental sealant is like a raincoat for your teeth. It is a thin, protective coating made from plastic or other dental materials that covers the chewing surface of the tooth. A dental sealant can help keep cavities from forming and may even stop tooth decay in its tracks with good brushing and flossing routines.
Which teeth need sealants?
Dental sealants are ideal for molars, or the back chewing teeth. Children start to get their first molars around age six, and their second set of molars around 12. After those molars are grown in, that is the ideal time to get a dental sealant for those teeth. While adults can get dental sealants, they are usually recommended for children since they often have a harder time thoroughly cleaning those back teeth.
Why are dental sealants needed?
While brushing and flossing twice a day helps keep your teeth clean, the surface of your tooth isn’t smooth, so small particles of food and bacteria can get stuck to your teeth. The particles that stay on your teeth can create small holes or pits, where a cavity can form. That is why dentists recommend that once a child’s molars have grown in, they get them covered by a protective dental sealant. Dentists say that dental sealants on the back molars can prevent nine out of ten cavities in children!
Who is a good candidate for sealants?
While your dentist will be able to assess whether dental sealants are a good option for your child, in general, children whose molars have grown in are the ideal candidate for a dental sealant.
How effective are dental sealants?
Dental sealants are very effective in preventing cavities in children. According to a 2016 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, once a dental sealant is applied, it can protect against up to 80% of cavities for two years, and up to 50% for four years.
Often, dental sealants can eliminate the need for dental fillings, dental crowns, or more expensive and invasive treatments if used in combination with good brushing and flossing habits.
How is a sealant applied?
A dental sealant is a painless preventive treatment that can be applied in one visit to your dentist’s office. First, your dentist will clean and dry your teeth, like they would after an oral examination. Next, the dentist will place an acidic gel on your teeth that roughens up the tooth’s surface so a strong bond will form between your tooth and the dental sealant. After a few seconds, the gel will be rinsed off, and your tooth will be dried before the sealant is applied. The last step involves your dentist using a special blue light to harden the sealant to your tooth.
In case you are wondering, a dental sealant can be used over a cavity. Because a dental sealant is clear, the dentist will still be able to observe anything going on on the tooth’s surface.
How long do dental sealants last?
A dental sealant can last years if you follow a good oral hygiene routine. After the dental sealant wears down, it will need to be reapplied to the tooth.
Visit Staley Dental to learn more about the benefits of dental sealants.
The team at Staley Dental are knowledgeable in all the latest dental techniques that can help your smile last longer, and we are more than happy to discuss any dental treatment you have questions about for both you or your child. You can give us or call, or stop by to make an appointment today!