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How Can Dental Sealants Protect Your Child’s Teeth?

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What Are Dental Sealants?

Dental sealants are a veneer-like plastic coating applied to those surfaces of molars and premolars that are used for chewing. These areas are at the back with deep grooves and fissures. These pits and cracks make it difficult to clean teeth properly, leading to tooth decay. Sealants protect teeth from decay by filling in the grooves and creating a smooth surface that is easy to clean.

Why Do Dentists Use Sealants?

Dentists use sealants as a preventive measure to protect teeth from decay. Sealants are a simple and cost-effective way for such and reduce the need for more invasive dental procedures such as fillings and crowns. Dental sealant procedure is simple and painless, and usually only takes a few minutes per tooth. The steps are as follows:

1. Cleaning the teeth

The teeth are thoroughly cleaned and dried before applying the sealant.

2. Acid etching

The dentist applies an acidic solution to the teeth to roughen up the surface, which helps the sealant bond to the tooth.

3. Sealant application

The sealant is applied to the tooth in liquid form and then hardened using a special curing light. The sealant forms a protective barrier over the tooth surface, filling the grooves and fissures, and preventing bacteria and food particles from getting trapped.

Sealants are particularly useful for children and teenagers who may have difficulty brushing their teeth properly or be at a higher risk of developing cavities. However, adults can also benefit from sealants, especially those who have deep grooves in their teeth or who are prone to cavities. Overall, dental sealants are simple and effective for preventing cavities and maintaining good oral health.

Are Dental Sealants Safe For Kids?

Studies have shown that dental sealants are safe for kids. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Dental Association, all support using dental sealants for kids.

However, dental sealants may not be recommended for children:

  • Who have active tooth decay or cavities. They may not be good candidates for dental sealants. Sealants are not for treating existing decay.
  • With a known allergy to any of the materials used in dental sealants.
  • With poor oral hygiene habits or greater risk for developing cavities. They may not benefit from dental sealants. Following an oral hygiene routine is necessary alongside receiving sealants.
  • Who have teeth with deep grooves or pits because the sealant material may not adhere to these teeth, reducing their efficacy.

What Age Should Kids Get Sealants?

Dental sealants are typically recommended for children at risk of developing cavities in their molars and premolars. The age range is usually between 6 and 14, i.e., when children's permanent teeth are still developing and are most susceptible to decay.

Not all children may need dental sealants. Your children's dentist will evaluate their oral health and determine if sealants are necessary. Dental sealants can also be recommended for adults prone to developing cavities in their back teeth.

Note that dental sealants are not a substitute for good oral hygiene practices, such as brushing daily twice a day with fluorinated toothpaste, flossing daily, and regular dental check-ups. Consult with your child's dentist to determine if dental sealants are the right choice for your child. The dentist can evaluate your child's dental health and discuss dental sealants' benefits and potential risks.

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