The best way to prevent cavities is to brush each morning and night and floss daily, but sometimes little teeth need some extra help from dental sealants. Sealants are thin plastic coatings that prevent food and bacteria from getting stuck in the grooves of back teeth, helping to avoid cavities.
Many parents might think sealants are only for big teeth, but baby teeth can benefit from sealants, too! Cavities can be common in little teeth, with six out of ten children experiencing a cavity by age five. In fact, untreated cavities in baby teeth can spread and cause decay in other teeth – including permanent teeth. Of course, remember that dental sealants are most effective with regular brushing, flossing, visits to the dentist and a proper diet.
Although thorough brushing and flossing can remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth, they cannot always get into all the nooks and crannies of the back teeth to remove the food and plaque. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas from tooth decay by “sealing out” plaque and food.
Why Should My Child Get Sealants?
Children and teenagers are candidates for sealants because of the likelihood of developing decay in the depressions and grooves of the premolars and molars.
In some cases, dental sealants may also be appropriate for baby teeth, such as when a child’s baby teeth have deep depressions and grooves. Because baby teeth play such an important role in holding the correct spacing for permanent teeth, it’s important to keep these teeth healthy so they are not lost too early.
You should talk to your child’s dentist to see if he or she should get sealants on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as these teeth come in. In this way, the sealants can protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years of ages six to 14.
How Are Sealants Applied?
Applying sealant is a simple and painless process. It takes only a few minutes for your dentist or hygienist to apply the sealant to seal each tooth. The application steps are as follows:
- First the teeth that are to be sealed are thoroughly cleaned.
- Each tooth is then dried, and cotton or another absorbent material is put around the tooth to keep it dry.
- An acid solution is put on the chewing surfaces of the teeth to roughen them up, which helps the sealant bond to the teeth.
- The teeth are then rinsed and dried.
- Sealant is then painted onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. Sometimes a special curing light is used to help the sealant harden.
How Long Do Sealants Last?
Sealants can protect teeth from decay for up to ten years, but they need to be checked for chipping or wearing at regular dental check-ups. However, your dentist can replace sealants as necessary. Call Westermeier Martin Dental Care to schedule an appointment with your dentist 716-508-4547.