Sealants help prevent decay by protecting the surface of the teeth, especially the back teeth where brushing can be more difficult for children. They are made of a clear, liquid resin that hardens when a special light is shined on it. This creates a smooth, hard surface that prevents food from settling in the grooves of your child’s back teeth.
Research has shown that sealants can reduce a child’s risk of decay in treated teeth by up to 80%. The CDC has even weighed in, stating that children without dental sealants may be 3 times more likely to develop decay in the same teeth than children with sealants.
HOW ARE SEALANTS PLACED?
First, the tooth or teeth are washed, dried, and isolated with either cotton rolls or a rubber dam. Then the teeth are etched with a special gel that roughens the teeth, so the sealant material has a rough surface to adhere to. Once that is rinsed off, the sealant material is flowed into the grooves of the teeth and light cured. When all the teeth have been treated, our doctors check for rough edges and makes sure floss can pass between the teeth.
Generally speaking, there are no side effects with dental sealants unless your child is allergic to one of the ingredients in the resin material, which is extremely rare.
CARING FOR YOUR CHILD’S SEALANTS
Sealants are sturdy and should last up to 10 years, but may need replacing sooner, depending on your child’s lifestyle. Avoiding chewing on ice and hard candy can prolong their life and prevent chipping which might allow decay to sneak in and rot the tooth from the inside. Our doctors will monitor your child’s sealants at each visit to make sure they are still intact.
While sealants don’t eliminate the need for proper homecare such as flossing and brushing twice daily, they can offer some protection and can even stop minor decay from developing further.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Pediatric dental sealants are thin protective coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of children’s molars and premolars to prevent cavities. They work by creating a barrier that seals out food particles and bacteria, reducing the risk of tooth decay.
Dental sealants are typically applied when a child’s permanent molars and premolars erupt, usually around ages 6 and 12. Applying them as soon as the teeth are fully erupted is recommended to provide early protection.
Yes, dental sealants are considered safe for children. The materials used in sealants are non-toxic, and the application process is quick and painless. The benefits of preventing cavities outweigh any minimal risks associated with sealant application.
Dental sealants can last several years with proper care and maintenance. However, regular dental check-ups are essential to monitor the condition of the sealants and determine if reapplication is necessary.