In general dentistry, dental sealants are applied to children’s teeth in order to protect them from tooth decay. As a parent, you want to ensure that anything your child experiences, contributes to their overall well-being without risking their health in any way. Are dental sealants safe for a growing child?
What are dental sealants?
Dental sealants are mechanical barriers used to protect against the formation of bacteria causing decay and cavities. The sealant is made from a thin translucent plastic coating which is directly applied to the teeth and is strong and easy to use. They can have a clear, white or other slightly tinted appearance. Sealants are also used in the repair of malformed or broken teeth.
As children’s molars (back teeth) and pre-molars are generally more susceptible to plaque build-up, sealants are often applied to these. Grooves, or fissures, in molars are sometimes difficult to clean properly and food particles tend to burrow themselves into these. These grooves can sometimes be narrower than a single bristle of a toothbrush. Dental sealants are often applied to a child’s very first molars at around the age of six and sometimes to their second at around age 12.
Dental sealants have a lifespan of approximately five to 10 years. The application procedure is quick and painless and provides extra protection against acid build-up from bacteria which causes the enamel to decay and form a cavity. Sealants provide a smooth surface covering over the fissured area.
When is a dental sealant necessary?
Your dentist may suggest a dental sealant when the fissure on the first permanent molar tooth shows a distinct vulnerability to decay. Once the chewing surface of the tooth has erupted completely beyond the gum, the sealant can be applied for added protection. Your dentist will monitor the teeth during each check-up during childhood growth stages and advise accordingly well into your child’s school-going days.
Dental sealants can also be placed on other permanent teeth which display grooves or pits.
How are dental sealants placed?
The tooth surface is thoroughly cleaned with a paste and a rotating brush. The tooth is then washed with water and dried. An acidic solution is placed on the area for several seconds and is then rinsed clean. This makes the chewing surface slightly rougher to allow the sealant to be able to attach to the tooth. The tooth is then again dried and the liquid sealant is applied. Dentists will harden the sealant by using a light, or sometimes with the use of a two-component dental sealant which sets without the need for a light. The result is a hard, plastic varnish coating, making it easier to chew on the tooth once more.
Dental sealants are more commonly applied in children than in adults and are reasonably safe to use. Your dentist will carefully examine your child’s teeth and determine if a sealant is the best course of treatment taking into the considering the damage, nature of their teeth and their age. We provide comprehensive dental care for kids. To chat about your child’s oral healthcare, including dental sealants, contact us today.