The main culprits are sugary snacks and poor oral hygiene. As parents, it’s very important to do everything we can to protect our children’s teeth from decay, and that becomes even more important when the adult teeth start coming in. One great tool for reducing the risk of decay is dental sealants.
Dental sealants are a protective layer of clear plastic that we brush onto the chewing surfaces of molars to seal out cavity-causing plaque and bacteria. Sealants have been around since the ‘60s, and they’re still popular today because of their effectiveness. Sealants have been shown to reduce the risk of decay by 80 percent! Children without sealants are almost three times more likely to develop cavities.
Molars are the most common targets for sealants because we do the most chewing with our molars and they have deep crevices that are hard to keep clean — especially for kids who don’t have great coordination when they brush their teeth. Sealants fill in those deep crevices and shield against bacteria.
Applying sealants is a quick and easy process that typically only takes a single visit. First, we polish the surfaces of your child’s teeth and clean away any food debris or plaque. Then, we isolate and dry each tooth to receive sealants.
Next, we apply a gel that will prepare the tooth’s surface to bond to the sealant. We rinse this off and dry the tooth again, and then we simply paint the sealant material onto the tooth. A special curing light helps the sealant to dry quickly. We’ll evaluate the sealant to make sure everything looks good, and once it finishes hardening, it is safe to chew on!
As soon as those permanent teeth begin erupting, it’s time for sealants. The first set of permanent molars typically appears around age 6 or 7. The sooner the sealants are applied, the better off those new teeth are, because food and bacteria won’t have a chance to settle into those crevices and they’ll be protected from the start. And while it’s good to start early, dental sealants aren’t just for kids!
Every child’s smile is precious, and our top priority is to give your child the best tools to keep their smile happy and healthy as they grow. Bring us any questions you have about dental sealants. We’d love to answer them and any others you may have about child dental care.