How Do Sealants for Children Work?
While brushing and flossing are the most effective ways to prevent cavities, it can be particularly difficult for small children to clean their teeth thoroughly by reaching all the areas where bacteria can accumulate. For this reason, many dentists recommend sealants, which can reduce tooth decay in children. Sealants have also been in use since the 1960s, meaning they have a safe an effective track record. Here’s what to know about this option if you are considering this for your children’s dental health.
How Do Sealants Work?
A dental sealant is a coating made from a special type of BPA-free resin or similar material that sticks to the molars’ chewing surfaces. It essentially acts as a raincoat for the teeth and can protect the underlying enamel.
Bacteria and food particles form acids that create cavities or holes in teeth. Just as a raincoat keeps you from getting wet during a storm, the sealant keeps bacteria and acid from settling on the surface of your teeth. This means that bacteria can’t eat away at the enamel and cause decay over time.
Who Can Get Sealants?
While virtually anybody can benefit from sealants, however they are especially beneficial for children as they don’t develop the necessary coordination and habits to brush their teeth effectively until around six to nine years of age.
A child’s first molars typically grow in when they are around six years old, while their second molars emerge when they are about twelve. Applying sealants to these teeth as soon as they emerge can protect them from the start and thus prevent decay and the need for expensive fillings. Sealants can also prevent premature tooth loss, which in turn reduces the risk of bite problems.
How Are Sealants Applied?
Getting sealants is quick and painless. Your child’s dentist will start by thoroughly cleaning and drying the teeth. They will then apply an acidic gel that will make the surface of the teeth rougher so the sealant will stick to them more readily. After rinsing off the gel, your child’s dentist will dry the teeth and paint the sealant on them. Finally, your child’s dentist will shine a special blue light on your child’s teeth to make the sealant harden more quickly. The whole process takes under an hour, and the exact time will depend on the number of teeth being treated.
Can Sealants Be Placed Over Cavities?
No. A sealant is placed on a cavity-free tooth and used to lower the risk of that tooth developing a cavity.
How Long Do Sealants Last?
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, sealants can last for up to a decade. It’s still a good idea to take your child to their dentist regularly, though, so they can look for chips or worn spots in the sealant. If necessary, your child’s dentist can apply more sealant coating to repair the sealant.
Schedule an Appointment
Sealants are an excellent way to set your child up for a lifetime of dental health. To meet with our pediatric dentistry team, we invite you to contact Sprout Kids Dentistry by calling our Quincy office or filling out our online form.