Sealants help protect children’s teeth from decay during their formative years. Even the best oral hygiene practices many not be sufficient protection against cavity formation, but with sealant coverage, the risk of tooth decay is nearly eliminated. Learn more about sealants, the application process and whether this dental treatment is right for your child.
What Are Sealants?
A sealant is a liquid plastic coating that hardens onto teeth’s surfaces. It keeps bacteria and plaque from penetrating tooth enamel. Sealants are especially effective for molars. The grooves and fissures in each molar’s chewing surface along with their placement in the mouth make them difficult to keep clean.
How Are Sealants Applied?
The application process is painless. First the tooth is thoroughly cleaned and dried. A roughening solution is painted onto the tooth surface to facilitate bonding between the tooth enamel and the sealant mixture. The tooth is once again cleaned and dried then the sealant solution is evenly applied. Dentists may use a curing light to accelerate the drying process. Once complete, the sealant can last for 10 years or more, as long as the tooth is properly cleaned and maintained.
When Should Your Child Get Sealants?
Many dental professionals recommend sealant application as soon as the permanent molars erupt. Children develop their first set of molars between the ages of 5 and 7. The second set arrives between the ages of 11 and 14. In some cases, if baby teeth show drastic signs of decay, the dentist may suggest sealing the temporary teeth as well. Baby teeth are vital to the proper development of the adult set. They hold the place for the incoming teeth, and premature loss can cause future misalignment.
Are Sealants Affordable?
Due to their extreme effectiveness in preventing more expensive tooth decay problems, many insurance plans cover sealant placement on both children and adults. Depending on the policy, the child’s age may be a factor in determining coverage limits. Call your dental insurance provider to inquire about the specific teeth and time frame covered.
Are Sealants Permanent?
The application has the potential to last for years, providing quality protection against tooth decay into adulthood. However, sealants do not give the patient license to forego normal oral hygiene practices. It is important for both adults and children to continue brushing their teeth at least twice per day with fluoride-enhanced toothpaste. Avoid consuming foods and drinks with high sugar content that may lodge on or in between teeth. Regularly floss between teeth and continue with dental checkups at six-month intervals throughout the year. At the normal exam, dentists can check for wear on the sealant, reapplying when necessary.
Contact Oak Hills Dentistry for more information on how sealants can protect your child’s teeth and to schedule a consultation appointment.