When your child’s permanent (adult) teeth begin emerging around the age of six, you can expect these teeth to last them for their lifetime. Protecting their adult teeth becomes a priority, and that’s why they need to be brushed and flossed as their teeth erupt so they don’t succumb to plaque, cavities or tooth decay with age.
Brushing and flossing thoroughly is harder to do on the chewing surfaces of your child’s back teeth. The good news is, you can supplement their daily hygiene care of removing plaque and food debris along with their biannual dental visits to remove tartar. Simply ask our dentist if you can have dental sealants applied to your child’s molars during their next checkup!
What Dental Sealants Are
Dental sealants are protective barriers made of a plastic material coating the chewing surfaces of your child’s permanent back teeth. These hard-to-reach (and-clean) teeth are responsible for the mouth’s major chewing activity as they chew and grind up food.
The molar’s top surfaces are grooved with crevices and pits — a prime hiding place for harmful bacteria and acids that cause tooth decay (or pit-and-fissure decay). For this reason, it’s typically the molars that are cavity-prone, and if you already use fluoride to protect against tooth decay, dental sealants can add an effective extra layer of protection.
How Sealants Work
When the molars trap food and oral debris in their grooves and pits and aren’t properly removed because of their location in the back of the mouth, dental sealants can provide protection for those teeth. The resulting smooth enamel effectively prevents bacteria from adhering to their surfaces.
Sealants are painless to apply and can last up to 10 years. This is a significant return on your investment in your child’s oral health. During their routine dental cleanings, we will check for any chips or worn areas of the sealants and fortify them with additional coverage if needed. By the time your child reaches adulthood, they will have had time to establish healthy oral hygiene habits to help their teeth last for a lifetime of smiles!
Placing Your Child’s Sealants
The molar will be prepared by cleaning and polishing to clear out the surface fissures. Then the tooth will be isolated and dried, preparing for the etching, rinsing and drying of the tooth. Next comes the application of the dental sealant material with a brush, and then curing with light to bond the sealant to the tooth’s surface. Finally, the tooth will be checked to make sure the hardened sealant is completely applied.
Since your child gets their first set of molars around age six they should get dental sealants when they first come through. When their second set of molars (around age 12) erupt, those should also get dental sealants.
As your child grows, your ongoing efforts to protect their developing smile by preventing dental problems early can help their permanent teeth stay healthier, longer! If you would like to learn more about dental sealants for your child, we welcome you to speak with our dentist to determine if your child is a candidate for this treatment. Your child’s healthy, beautiful smile is worth it!