Preventing fillings (and drilling!) sometimes takes a little more than regular dental hygiene. To give your children extra protection, consider a dental sealant.
What are Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings that can be applied to the chewing surface of teeth. They are most often applied to the permanent back teeth, such as the molars and premolars, to help prevent decay. These teeth are most susceptible because their surface has grooves where food particles and plaque can accumulate. Plaque buildup on these teeth can attack the enamel, causing cavities. Dental sealants can seal out plaque and food from the nooks and crannies of back teeth.
Age Range for Dental Sealants
Dental sealants are usually applied to the molars of children and teenagers when they first come through the gum. The most cavity-prone years are ages 6-14, so sealants are often applied before this age. Dental sealants can sometimes be placed on adults or even baby teeth, depending on the number of grooves in the teeth.
Applying Dental Sealants
The process of applying dental sealants is quick and pain-free and does not require any drilling. The sealant can be applied in your dentist’s office with just a few easy steps:
1. The teeth are cleaned and thoroughly dried.
2. An acidic solution is placed on teeth to create a rougher surface so the sealant can adhere. The solution is rinsed off and the teeth are dried.
3. The liquid sealant is painted on the teeth, where it bonds and hardens.
4. Sometimes a high-intensity light is placed on the teeth to help the sealant dry and harden.
5. Once hardened, the sealant forms a plastic varnish that bonds the grooves, forming a protective shield.
Dental sealants are hardly visible and can be clear or white, depending on the sealant. They can last five to 10 years but should be checked for wear or chipping during a normal dental visit. If they wear away, dental sealants can easily be reapplied.
Sealants can provide extra protection when used with a child’s regular dental care. They provide a protective barrier on teeth that are hard to reach with normal brushing and flossing. If allowed to fully decay, teeth will sustain permanent damage and must be filled. Sealants can save you and your child the time, money and discomfort of dental fillings!
Contact our office for questions and appointments.