Benefits of Dental Sealants
You’ve done all you can to encourage your child to stick to a regular routine of oral hygiene – but it may not be enough to prevent tooth decay.
Thorough brushing and flossing will get rid of food debris and bacterial plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth but your child’s permanent back teeth – premolars and molars – are still prone to developing cavities.
This is because these teeth contain deep grooves that a toothbrush and floss can’t reach. Neither is fluoride treatment an option to protect back teeth because, like brushing and flossing, it’s only effective on the teeth’s even surfaces.
The solution? Dental sealants.
Sealants help to prevent tooth decay by forming a barrier against the bacteria and acids that cause cavities through a build-up of plaque and tartar.
A Simple and Cost-Effective Procedure
Compared with the expense of having to get a cavity filled, the dental sealant procedure is a simple and cost-effective preventative measure to keep your child free from cavities.
The sealant procedure entails painting a plastic resin onto the chewing surfaces of teeth. This resin hardens quickly and fuses with the deep furrows of the back teeth. The treatment is painless.
Sealant treatment comprises three stages:
- Preparation. The tooth is cleaned to remove plaque and food particles and is then etched to create optimum adhesion for the sealant material.
- Application. The sealant is applied to the surface of the tooth, typically with a brush. A self-curing light is then used to fix the sealant to the tooth surface.
- Evaluation. The dentist checks that the tooth is functioning correctly in relation to other teeth. Finally, the sealant material hardens into a tough plastic coating.
Preventing Serious Oral Health Issues
Eighty percent of tooth decay in school-age kids is estimated to occur in the fissures and pits of teeth, so sealants can significantly lower your child’s risk of getting cavities. More than 40 percent of children aged six to 11 have had dental sealant treatment. School-age children without sealants have nearly three times as many cavities than those with sealants.
Dental sealants can save you money because they avoid the need for more costly crowns or root canals in the future. However, the major benefit of dental sealants is better overall oral health for your child.
Cavities can quickly result in more serious problems such as gingivitis and destruction of tooth enamel. Tooth decay can also interfere with your child’s school attendance and other regular activities and affect their nutrition and sleep. Even if your child has a cavity filled, the strength of the tooth is weakened.
Sealants can be applied quickly, causing no discomfort during or after the procedure, and they mean fewer visits to the dentist in the future. Your youngster’s sealed teeth won’t require work like fillings.
Sealants can last up to a decade but require monitoring at routine dental exams to ensure they are not wearing away or have become chipped. Your child’s pediatric dentist or dental hygienist can repair sealants by applying a further layer of protective material.
Why Should My Child Get Dental Sealants?
Youngsters’ teeth are more prone to decay because it takes three years for the protective layer of enamel to fully develop in their new teeth.
Another risk factor is that young children often find it difficult to brush and floss properly. Apart from providing a barrier against bacteria, sealants make it simpler for kids to brush and floss their teeth effectively.
Sealants reduce tooth decay by 86 percent in the first year and 58 percent after four years. Studies have also shown that dental sealants not only protect teeth from cavities but can also stop decay in the initial stages by sealing in the bacteria and preventing a cavity that would otherwise require a filling. The sealant cuts off the bacterial colony from its food supply, arresting or at least reducing the decay process.
The American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs recommends sealants for the primary and permanent molars of all children. The council also advises dentists to use sealants rather than fluoride treatments to seal the biting surfaces of molars.
When Should My Child Get Dental Sealants?
The risk of developing tooth decay on the chewing surfaces of back teeth starts early in life. Pediatric dentists have been using sealants to protect teeth since the 1960s. They provide a proven, effective and safe method to prevent cavities.
Dental sealants can protect your child’s teeth early in their life before bacteria has a chance to attack their teeth and before the molars and pre-molars start to sustain natural wear and tear, increasing the risk of cavities.
Sealants can be applied soon after the adult back teeth have emerged. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), the first permanent molars usually erupt through the gum from the age of five to seven years. The second permanent molars arrive from the age of 11 to 14.
Get your youngster’s back teeth checked out as soon as they emerge. Your pediatric dentist can detect whether fissures and pits are present and whether they increase your child's risk of cavities.
In some cases, sealants can be applied to primary (baby) teeth with deep pits and fissures. Your child’s primary teeth reserve space for the adult teeth to grow in so they need to be kept healthy so they don’t have to be extracted or fall out too early.
Pediatric Dental Sealant Services
There are many benefits of dental sealants for children and they play a key role in pediatric preventative dentistry. Spending a relatively small amount of money on sealants will ensure your child won't need expensive procedures further down the line.
The multiple nooks and crannies of your youngsters’ back teeth make them particularly vulnerable to cavities because they provide a haven for harmful bacteria and are more awkward to clean than front teeth.
Dental sealants can safeguard your youngster’s molars and premolars against decay by sealing off the furrows and crevices that trap bits of food while protecting tooth enamel from plaque and acid attack.
If you’re considering sealants for your children, look for a pediatric dental office with a strong emphasis on preventative dentistry.