What Are Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are a very thin, BPA free plastic coating that is painted onto the chewing surfaces of the adult back teeth; these are the molars and premolars. The sealant is applied to help protect these surfaces from tooth decay. These chewing surfaces are particularly prone towards developing cavities as they can often have very deep fissures and grooves that are tricky to clean thoroughly. As a result it’s easy for food particles and plaque bacteria to become trapped in these deep fissures, increasing the risk of cavities. Dental sealants effectively seal up the tooth, preventing plaque and food from settling in these areas.
Who Should Have Dental Sealants?
Your pediatric dentist is likely to suggest applying dental sealants to your child’s teeth, as soon as their adult or permanent molars and premolars emerge. This helps protect these teeth against cavities, as children are particularly prone towards developing tooth decay between the ages of six and 14 as their tooth enamel isn’t as hard as adults.
Sometimes a dentist will suggest applying dental sealants to baby or milk teeth. This may be appropriate if your child has particularly deep grooves in their baby teeth that would be awkward to clean. It’s important to preserve baby teeth until they are ready to fall out by themselves as they help to hold open the correct amount of space for adult teeth.
How Are Dental Sealants Applied?
The procedure for applying dental sealants is straightforward and painless and should be easily tolerated by your child. Your pediatric dentist or hygienist will only need a few minutes to apply the sealant to each tooth. The application process is as follows:
- First, the teeth must be thoroughly cleaned.
- Each tooth is dried as it is essential the sealant is applied to a dry surface in order for it to bond properly.
- Your dentist or hygienist will slightly roughen the surface of each tooth to be sealed using an acidic solution. This helps increase the bond between the tooth and the sealant.
- The teeth are rinsed and dried, ready for the procedure.
- The sealant is painted onto the chewing surfaces of the teeth, and a strong bond forms between the sealant and the tooth as it hardens. Sometimes a special light is used to help the sealant harden.
Afterwards your child will be able to eat and drink normally as the sealants will be immediately ready to use. Dental sealants can protect your child’s teeth for up to 10 years, but they can gradually chip and wear away. Your pediatric dentist will check their condition at each visit, as the dental sealants can be replaced when necessary.
Dental sealants are inexpensive and effective so it’s well worth considering this preventative dental care treatment for your child.