Although more and more dental health professionals stress the importance of dental sealants, many parents don’t know what they are. We understand that before you feel comfortable having your children undergo this procedure, you’ll want to understand what sealants are, why we recommend them and how they’re applied. So, here’s everything you need to know about dental sealants, an essential ingredient in the fight against tooth decay.
What Is a Dental Sealant Anyway?
Our teeth, especially those found in the back of the mouth, are filled with pits and fissures also called grooves. Dental sealants are a thin coating that covers these and prevents bacteria, germs, sugars and other causes of cavities from penetrating the enamel.
Sealants resemble a thin layer of white nail polish which is painted on the chewing surfaces of the teeth, where tooth decay commonly starts. There is no numbing or drilling required. Once applied, the sealant significantly decreases the risk of tooth decay by keeping food particles, bacteria and the like out of these grooves.
Why, When and Where Are Dental Sealants Used?
Now that you know what dental sealants are, you’re probably wondering why your child should get them, when they’re recommended and where in your child’s mouth they should be applied. Here are the answers to those questions:
- Why: Dental sealants are particularly useful with children — especially those prone to cavities. Even with a proper dental care routine, children tend to have difficulty reaching all the pits and grooves in their teeth. Sealants provide added protection, preventing those dreaded cavities from developing.
- When: When’s a good time in your child’s oral development to get dental sealants? In general, baby teeth don’t have the deep grooves present in permanent teeth. So, sealants are not as common for young children who haven’t lost their baby teeth, though there are exceptions. For maximum effectiveness, take your child to get dental sealants as soon as their permanent teeth begin to erupt. Your dentist can help you determine the best time to apply sealants.
- Where: The most common place to get cavities is in the grooves found in the back teeth or molars. The six-year and 12-year permanent molars benefit the greatest from sealants, though you can choose to get dental sealants only for those teeth that have more fissures or are more prone to decay.
How Long Do Dental Sealants Last?
When applied correctly, dental sealants can last for as long as 5-10 years. Throughout that time, the sealants will help prevent tooth decay in your child’s teeth. It’s not uncommon for some chipping to occur over time at the edges due to regular wear and tear. During your child’s routine dental appointments, the dentist will inspect the sealants and offer to reapply if needed.
Dental sealants don’t replace the need for fluoride treatments. Sealants only protect the surface areas where they’re applied. Fluoride, on the other hand, protects the surfaces of all your child’s teeth.
Learn More About Dental Sealants at Sprout Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics
At Sprout Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics, we routinely recommend that parents consider dental sealants for their children. This beneficial procedure will keep your child smiling and cavities far away. Contact us today to schedule your appointment and learn more about how dental sealants can benefit your child.