You teach your children proper oral hygiene habits, take them to every scheduled dental checkup, and make sure they stay on top of their daily tooth care schedule. You watch their sugar intake, and encourage cleaning after you allow a little indulgence. But even the best laid plans of careful parents can quickly go off track when it comes to protecting your children from cavities.
Cavities are tiny, painful holes caused by the tooth decay process, which is fueled by sugar. While cavities can strike at any age, children and young adults are particularly high-risk. Preventing cavities starts with good maintenance, but sometimes regular brushing, flossing, and fluoride aren’t enough. Dental sealants are an excellent way to stop decay in the teeth of your children before it can even get started.
What Are Dental Sealants, and How Are They Applied?
Your child’s molars, or back teeth, are especially prone to cavities. Molars often have deep pits and grooves, where food remnants can easily be trapped. Since molars are located in the back of your child’s mouth, they’re also more difficult to clean. So when a piece of food does get stuck in a pit or groove, it will often linger and cause decay. Dental sealants are used to protect molars from cavities, in children and adults.
- Dental sealant is made from plastic, and applied by your dentist. It’s “painted” on in a thin coating, and seals the chewing surface of the tooth to prevent decay.
- Dental sealant application is non-invasive. It doesn’t hurt, and the coating is thin enough that your child won’t even notice it’s there.
- Dental sealants prevent the bacteria and food remnants that cause tooth decay from damaging the surface of your child’s molars. It’s an added layer of protection, where protection is most needed.
- When applying sealant, your dentist will first make sure the tooth is clean and dry, then place cotton around the tooth to keep it that way.
- Next, your dentist will apply a solution to make the surface of the tooth more receptive to sealant. After that, the tooth is cleaned and dried once more before sealant is applied.
- Your dentist will then apply the sealant, which comes in liquid form and dries in just a few minutes. It’s as simple as that! Sealants last up to ten years, and your dentist will check that they are still in good condition during each regular checkup.
Who Should Get Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are used most commonly to protect the teeth of children and young adults. There’s no age limit for sealants, however. If you’re an adult and your molars are free of decay and fillings, you can have them sealed, however children and teens are the most frequent recipients because they face increased risk of tooth decay.
- Children should have sealants applied as soon as their first permanent molars appear, which usually occurs between five and seven years of age. With proper care, your child’s first sealants should last into their teenage years.
- The second set of permanent molars, which emerge between eleven and fourteen years of age, should also be sealed as quickly as possible. Sealing molars quickly keeps tooth decay from gaining a foothold in your child’s teeth.
- Most children won’t need to have their baby teeth sealed. However, if your child is at especially high risk for tooth decay, sealing baby teeth is a viable option. Baby teeth hold a space for adult teeth to emerge, so it’s important that your child doesn’t lose them earlier than necessary.
- Speak with your dentist if you’re an adult considering sealants for the first time. If you’re teeth aren’t decayed but have deep pits and grooves, you may be a good candidate for dental sealants.
- Remember that even with sealants, it’s important to keep your child’s teeth clean. That means brushing at the usual times, and regular flossing.
Dental sealants are an excellent option to protect the long-term health of your child’s teeth. Cavities are painful, unpleasant, and require frequent trips to the dentist. Why deal with all of that if you don’t have to? Sealants keep your child’s teeth healthy and free of decay. It’s a pain-free process, and the results speak for themselves.
Looking for a fun way to familiarize your young child with dental visits and strong oral health habits? Try a complimentary Happy Visit from Loreen Wong Dentistry! We also offer all the dental services you need for a healthy smile, no matter your age.