4S Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics
The Scoop on Dental Sealants for Kids
It’s no secret to parents that establishing good brushing and flossing habits with their children is one of the best ways to prevent cavities and maintain good oral health. However, some parents may not know that dental sealants are another valuable tool in fighting cavities, especially in children.
Dental sealants are clear or tooth-colored plastic material that is applied to the chewing surfaces or grooves of the back teeth (premolars and molars). These surfaces are where most cavities in children form – it’s not always easy to clean these rough and uneven areas where leftover food particles and cavity-causing bacteria hide. Dental sealants act as a barrier to food, plaque, and acid and protect these decay-prone areas of the teeth.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), sealants have been shown to reduce the risk of decay in molars by nearly 80%. Although adults can also benefit from dental sealants, the earlier they are applied, the better. Kids get their first molars around age six and second molars typically come in around age 12. Sealing these teeth as soon as they break through can really go a long way to ensuring they are cavity-free from the start. As long as there is no existing cavity in the tooth, sealants are typically recommended for all children.
So how are sealants applied? It’s an easy, quick, and painless process! Sealants are placed during a routine office visit by a either a dental hygienist or a dentist. There are three simple steps:
1. Teeth should be properly cleaned and examined to make sure that there are no existing cavities in the teeth to be sealed.
2. The teeth are dried and a cleanser is placed on them. This tooth shampoo cleans the grooves of any biomatter so that a strong bond can be formed between the tooth and the sealant. The gel is rinsed off and the teeth are dried once again.
3. The sealant material is applied to the biting surface (grooves) of the teeth to be sealed. A special light is then placed above the tooth to harden the sealant.
Combined with proper brushing, flossing, a healthy diet, and regular dental check-ups, the application of dental sealants is an easy and pain-free way to help kids in the fight against cavities.