Sealed With a Toothy Grin: Sealants Add Layer of Cavity Protection
If you’ve started taking your child to the dentist, you have probably heard about sealants. Parenting magazines, news articles and dentists all praise sealants as a great way to protect your child’s teeth, but they don’t always offer an explanation. What are dental sealants? Should your child get sealants? How often should kids get sealants? We’re here to answer your questions so you can make informed decisions.
What are dental sealants?
Dental sealants provide a thin layer of protection on top of your child’s tooth that prevents decay and protects against cavities. Bacteria inside the mouth eats away at the outer enamel of teeth. This leads to little holes called cavities. Sealants offer a barrier between teeth and bacteria, food particles and other cavity-causing materials. This barrier blocks food from settling on your child’s teeth and prevents tooth decay.
Sealant is typically applied to the back molars on the chewing surface of teeth. It’s easy for bits of food to get stuck in this surface, making them more vulnerable. The application process for sealants is easy and painless. After your child’s teeth are thoroughly cleaned, the dentist or hygienist will cover the teeth with a gel. This gel helps the sealant form a strong bond with each tooth. Once the gel is rinsed off, the teeth are dried and the sealant is applied. A bright blue light is used to harden the protective coating.
Should your child get sealants?
The short answer is yes, sealants have been proven very effective in protecting your child’s teeth from cavities and decay. While it’s no substitute for regular brushing, flossing and a healthy diet, sealants prevent cavities and can stop early decay from spreading. The process is painless, there are no known side effects, and your dental insurance policy may cover the cost of sealants. A detailed study by the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry revealed that children with sealants are about 80 percent less likely to have issues with cavities and tooth decay.
How often should kids get sealants?
Generally, the earlier your child gets sealants, the better. Your pediatric dentist will determine the appropriate time for your child. Commonly, around the age of six kids will start getting their first molars. The second molars usually aren’t developed until age 12. As soon as these teeth are showing, it’s a good idea to get them sealed. In some cases, younger kids require sealants on baby teeth with deep grooves before the age of six. Sealants last for several years. If necessary, the protective coating can be reapplied. At your child’s regular dental checkup, the doctor will decide whether or not your child needs a new coat of sealant.
Once you realize the benefits of dental sealants for your child, you might consider the procedure for yourself. While sealants are commonly requested for kids, some adults are adding this layer of protection to their teeth. The same benefits of dental sealants apply to adults who do not have significant decay or fillings in their molars.
Dental sealants are a proven way to protect your teeth from decay and cavities. Next time you bring your child to the dentist, talk to your doctor about this preventative measure that can help lead to a lifetime of good oral hygiene.