What Parents Need to Know about Dental Sealants for Kids and Teens?
As parents, you naturally want your children to be healthy and that extends to their dental health. But it’s a constant challenge. The most “cavity prone” years for kids are between the ages of 6 and 14 when their permanent teeth are still emerging and growing. And no matter how often we try to talk to them about the need to brush and floss properly and avoid sweets, they’re kids, so they’re not going to follow the guidelines we try to set for them.
Are dental sealants worth it?
That is why your dentist may, at some point, recommend the use of dental sealants for your young children, as a preventative measure to help them avoid tooth decay. Dental sealants are a thin, plastic material that is applied to the outer surfaces of the teeth – most often the molars and premolars at the back of the mouth, which have more ridges and pits, and thus where food debris and bacteria may accumulate and lead to tooth decay. The sealants fill tiny cracks in the teeth and seal these ridges and pits, and act as a barrier to prevent bacteria from entering.
This preventative measure is viewed by most dentists as a proactive step and is far more effective than waiting for decay to occur and then filling it. Even small amounts of tooth decay damage the teeth and damage them permanently. The purpose of dental sealants is to prevent the decay from forming in the first place.
Should I put sealants on my child’s teeth?
The procedure to apply dental sealants is so fast and painless that there is often no need for any anesthetic. Each of the teeth to be covered with the sealant is first cleaned and then treated with an acidic solution to provide a better base for the sealant and a more effective bond. After the teeth have dried, the dentist then paints the sealant directly onto the enamel and allows it to harden. Sometimes a bright light is used to help the sealant harden more quickly.
Once the sealant has been applied, your child brushes and flosses as they did before. They should notice no difference between how their teeth looked or felt before, and how they look and feel now. The sealant itself lasts for up to ten years, but regular checkup visits are recommended so that the dentist can check the sealed areas for any signs of wear or chipping and re-seal them.
Do dental sealants prevent cavities?
Dental sealants have proved their effectiveness at preventing cavities and tooth decay in young people so often that they are now recommended as an integral part of each child’s good dental care. Sealants can be of value to adults as well, especially if they are prone to cavities, but their primary use is as a preventative anti-decay therapy for young people. When you combine dental sealants with regular brushing and flossing, wise eating choices, and regular dental visits, the result can be a healthy mouth and smile that will last your kids for a lifetime.
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