There’s the bubbling excitement as the first tiny corner peeks through the gums and the shared misery of teething. Then, there’s the fun of teaching tooth-brushing techniques and cheering as your child masters spitting in the sink instead of everywhere else. Do you remember the adventure of that very first trip to the dentist? What about that gap-toothed grin and the magic of the tooth fairy’s first visit to collect a lost baby tooth? If you’re like most parents, you’ve invested a lot of time, energy, and emotion in your children’s teeth. Dental sealants for kids are an easy, affordable way to protect their fantastic smiles.
Dental Sealants for Kids
Thin coatings of composite resins, dental sealants create a barrier that protects teeth. Much like an umbrella forms a shield against the rain, dental sealants block bacteria, acids, and other unpleasantries, preventing them from reaching the surface of teeth. It’s an effective way of warding off the development of tooth decay and cavities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dental sealants provide the following benefits:
- Dental sealants for kids protect against 80 percent of cavities in the initial two years following their application.
- Dental sealants ward off roughly 50 percent of cavities for up to four years.
- Some 90 percent of cavities occur in the back teeth; dental sealants can prevent 80 percent of the cavities in these hard-to-reach back teeth.
- School-age kids without dental sealants have nearly three times as many first molar cavities as those with dental sealants.
The Advantages of Dental Sealants
The evidence makes it clear that dental sealants work well in preventing cavities and offer several excellent advantages. First, untreated cavities tend to cause pain and discomfort. By preventing cavities from developing in your child’s teeth, you’re stopping this pain before it has the chance to start. Painful or missing teeth are also linked with difficulty eating, speech issues, and self-consciousness. By safeguarding your child’s teeth with dental sealants, you’re not just ensuring that they have a nice smile; you’re supporting their physical, mental, and emotional health.
In addition to protecting your child’s teeth, dental sealants also have the potential to protect your wallet. After all, if cavities never develop, then you won’t face the issue of paying for more expensive treatments like fillings or crowns to repair damage to your child’s teeth. By reducing the likelihood of cavities, dental sealants can significantly reduce the costs involved in keeping your child’s teeth healthy.
How Do Dental Sealants Work?
It’s easy to understand why so many cavities tend to form in the back teeth. Brushing effectively in the depths of the mouth is already a bit of a challenge. Complicating matters further, these permanent teeth, known as premolars and molars, feature chewing surfaces that are full of fissures, grooves, and depressions. This makes them prone to plaque accumulation, which leads to an increased risk of cavities. That’s why dental sealants are generally recommended for the chewing surfaces of these vulnerable back teeth. If your child has deep pits in other baby or permanent teeth, however, the dentist may recommend treating these areas as well. The process of applying dental sealants is quick and painless:
- The teeth are cleaned thoroughly and dried. Then, cotton is placed around them to keep them dry.
- An acidic solution is put on the teeth to be sealed. This roughens their surface slightly, which allows the dental sealant to adhere to the tooth better. Then, the solution is rinsed away, the teeth are dried, and fresh cotton is placed.
- The dental sealant is applied. A liquid resin is painted onto the teeth. It seeps into the various nooks and crannies of the treated tooth’s surface.
- The dental sealant hardens rapidly, forming a shield. The process is quick and painless.
Do Dental Sealants Require Special Care?
After a dental sealant hardens, your child will be able to use the treated tooth normally. While it’s always important to practice good dental hygiene, dental sealants don’t require any special care. They can last up to a decade, but they should be evaluated regularly for signs of erosion. If necessary, a dental sealant can be replaced.
Can Kids With Dental Sealants Still Get Cavities?
Children with dental sealants are not immune to cavities. After all, dental sealants are only applied to certain areas of certain teeth, so untreated surfaces remain vulnerable. While these coatings can provide a valuable layer of protection, it is vital that children continue to brush, floss, and visit their dentist for regular dental checkups.
If you have questions about dental sealants for kids or would like to schedule a consultation to see if they’d be a good option for your child, Duff Family Dental can help if you live in the Springfield, Missouri, area. We offer a full line of general, cosmetic, pediatric, and restorative dentistry services. Call us at 417-501-8601 or schedule an appointment today!