It's important to protect children's teeth, even their baby teeth, because oral health encompasses so much more. The gums and skeletal structure also need to be protected against infection. By sealing teeth, the risk of cavities-and consequently infections and decay-decreases, leading to a healthier mouth and a happier child.
What Are Dental Sealants?
They are thin, plastic coatings painted directly onto the chewing surfaces of teeth, especially the molars and premolars. The goal is to seal off the area, creating an invisible barrier that keeps food from lodging into tiny crevices. It also keeps bacteria from interacting with tooth enamel.
This preventative service works well to ward off tooth decay. With the clear coating present, there's less chance that a cavity will develop. Dental sealants form a shield so that even if a child misses certain areas when brushing and flossing, a level of protection is still in place.
Molars in particular are prone to cavities. Application of this coating is an effective way to keep molars intact and cavity-free throughout the childhood years. Some studies show they can reduce the risk of decay in molars by almost 80 percent. A child with fewer cavities and mouth infections will typically have fewer oral problems as an adult.
How Do They Protect Teeth?
It's simple. The plastic coating adheres to the tooth so that food can't come into direct contact with the enamel. This means that acids found in foods and created by bacteria can't wear away the enamel. The tooth's surface remains intact and healthy.
While dental sealants are available for children and adults, pediatric dentists in particular recommend them. The application is straightforward and far easier and quicker than filling a cavity. It's a painless procedure that involves cleaning and drying each tooth before applying a prep gel. The gel is rinsed off after a few seconds, and the teeth are dried again. Then the plastic coating is applied, and a special blue light is used to harden the material.
Are There Any Side Effects?
It's a very safe procedure with no known major side effects. The notable exception is a possible pre-existing allergy to the plastic material, but this is very rare.
How Often Should They Be Re-Applied?
Another great thing about this therapy is that dental sealants can last years, which means your child doesn't have to spend a lot of time going back to the dentist. The material is strong and durable, typically lasting several years before a reapplication is required.
Occasionally one or two teeth will need reapplication before the rest do. In these cases, the dentist can quickly treat just the affected areas.
Brushing & Cleanings Are Still Important
While sealants are effective, they don't replace regular brushing and flossing. Nor do they replace regular checkups and cleanings. All of these measures work together to keep kids cavity-free for as long as possible. Learning good oral care at a young age is healthy habit that will yield benefits for a whole lifetime.
Source by Anna Woodward