One of the best ways of preventing tooth decay is to have dental sealants placed on your child’s teeth to act as a barrier between the tooth enamel and plaque acids. Sealants are useful in providing additional protection to children’s teeth until they can master daily oral hygiene habits.
Here are six facts every parent should know about dental sealants before having them applied to your child’s teeth.
What Is a Dental Sealant?
A dental sealant is a thin, plastic coating that is painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth. Typically, the teeth treated with sealants are the back premolars and molars to prevent tooth decay. The sealant quickly bonds to the depressions and deep grooves of a tooth, forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth.
How Sealants Are Applied
The process of applying dental sealants is straightforward, with no associated pain or discomfort. The teeth are cleaned and prepared for the sealant material to be applied. Teeth are prepared by using a mild solution that is similar in strength to lemon juice or vinegar. This slightly roughens the surface of each tooth to help the sealant material bond properly to the tooth. Once the tooth has been prepared, the acrylic sealant is then applied to the tooth or teeth. The sealant material is able to flow into depressions or grooves on a tooth and fills them in. It is then allowed to harden for 1-2 minutes at which time the tooth will become sealed and protected from bacteria collecting in the pits and grooves.
Which Teeth Should Be Sealed and When?
Young children and teenagers are the best candidates for sealants because of the likelihood of developing tooth decay in the depressions and grooves of molars and premolars during these years of development. Typically, children should have sealants applied to their teeth as soon as the teeth erupt to protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years of ages 6 to 14.
In some instances, dental sealants can also be beneficial for baby teeth if a child has deep grooves because baby teeth play such a vital role in holding the correct spacing for permanent teeth. Keeping baby teeth healthy, so they are not lost too early in a child’s development is critical. In addition, adults without decay or fillings in their molars can also benefit from sealants.
Sealants are Safe and Effective
BPA is a common ingredient used in the manufacturing of polycarbonate plastics and epoxies, but it is not part of the chemical formulation of dental sealants. There is no scientific evidence to show that dental sealants are associated with human estrogenic effects or any other adverse health effect. The potential exposure to BPA from sealants is infrequent, and when present, occurs for only a few hours at levels well below those known to have any biological effects.
In addition to being a fast and painless solution for protecting a child’s teeth, sealants are also much more cost effective than dental restorations. Most dental insurance companies include sealants in the list of treatments covered under most general policies. Preventing the need for expensive and painful cavities at a fraction of the cost makes dental sealants the preventative choice for children.
Sealants Reduce Tooth Decay By 70%
Even if your child brushes their teeth twice a day, they are still prone to developing cavities. The grooves in a tooth are the perfect environment for bacteria to linger and attack the tooth. The average toothbrush is unable to reach the deep grooves, leaving left-behind bacteria to cause cavities. Dental sealants can add an additional layer of protection to each tooth, promoting a healthy smile, all while reducing tooth decay by 70%.
They Are Long-Lasting
Dental sealants can last up to 10 years on average depending on the brushing pattern and eating habits of the child. Sealants will last longer if you maintain good oral hygiene and also avoid biting hard objects. During routine dental visits, the dentist will check the sealants and may recommend re-application or repair when necessary.
Help Protect Your Child’s Teeth
Give your child’s teeth an extra layer of protection by having dental sealants applied. In addition to excellent oral hygiene habits, healthy eating, and regular cleanings and exams, sealants are one of the most effective ways to prevent future cavities. To learn more about preventing tooth decay with dental sealants, schedule a consultation appointment with Hinsdale Dentistry today!