What Are Dental Sealants & Should My Child Get Them?

Doctor preparing for dental sealants

In a perfect world, every child I see in Flower Mound would brush their teeth twice every day, and they’d do a great job of it. They would have very little in the way of sugary snacks or candy, and they’d even floss!

The reality is far from that vision of a dentist’s eutopia. Most children could brush their teeth more effectively, especially those molars in the back. When I see a child that’s lacking in the dental hygiene department getting their permanent teeth, I hope that they can get on track sooner rather than later. Many fail to realize just how important it is to take care of their teeth until after they start having problems.

Fortunately for those children, we have a way to mitigate the damage that could be done in their youth.

What are dental sealants?

Just as you might clear coat your furniture or your car as a way to protect those valuable items from permanent damage, pediatric dentists can place a thin coating on the vulnerable teeth of children to protect against bacterial decay.

The teeth most at risk are the molars and premolars, the large teeth hiding in the back. They can be hard to see and hard to clean, so they are the areas most likely to have plaque buildup, and are the areas that we see the most problems with.

When a protective dental sealant is added to these teeth, the risk of cavities is reduced by as much as 80 percent! Children with dental sealants develop cavities at one-third the rate of those without.

Most children start to get their first molars coming in around age 6, with the second set coming between ages 12-14. As the procedure is effective and relatively inexpensive (compared to treating cavities), we frequently recommend the use of dental sealants on pre-molar and permanent molars as soon as they come in.

What should we expect when getting dental sealants?

This is one procedure that children should have no worries about. While treating cavities can take a short while and be uncomfortable, dental sealants are a breeze.

The procedure begins with a thorough cleaning and drying of the teeth. Then, a gel primer is applied to the teeth being treated. This primer simply helps the sealant form a strong bond to the tooth.

Once the primer has dried, the sealant is “painted” onto the enamel of the teeth. The sealant needs to cure, so a special light is used that helps the sealant to bond and harden to its final state. Since the curing light sets our sealant right away, there isn’t a waiting period after treatment; children are free to eat and drink right away.

Ask Dr. Duffy About Dental Sealants

Even though the American Dental Association recommends that children get dental sealants, too few actually have them. If you’d like to see if dental sealants are right for your child, Flower Mound’s top pediatric dental team is here to help.
Dr. Duffy

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