It’s important to take care of your teeth at an early age to prevent cavities, gum disease, and a host of other dental issues. If you have young children, you may be wondering if it’s time for them to get dental sealants. So what are dental sealants, and when should your child get them?
What Are Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are thin, protective coatings made from plastic or other special dental materials that bond to the chewing surfaces of back teeth. While they could never replace brushing, sealants are a great way to keep food particles and cavity-causing bacteria out of molars’ nooks and crannies.
Bacteria feasts on food particles left on the uneven surfaces of your molars, creating acids that make holes (known as cavities) in your teeth. Dental sealants protect the vulnerable crevices of your molars from food particles that can get stuck there. Essentially, sealants are like raincoats for your teeth! In fact, sealants reduce the risk of decay by about 80%. Children without sealants have about three times more cavities than those with sealants.
When Should My Child Get Sealants?
As soon as your child’s permanent molars erupt, consider dental sealants to protect these teeth. First molars appear around age six, while second molars erupt around age twelve. By sealing your child’s molars as soon as they emerge, you can keep these surfaces cavity-free from the very beginning to promote a healthy mouth. A healthy mouth saves you time and money and your child from unnecessary discomfort because they will experience less decay, infection, and disease.
How Are Dental Sealants Applied?
The process for applying dental sealants is relatively quick and painless. We’ll clean and dry your child’s molar before we roughen up its chewing surface with an acidic gel so a strong bond can form between the tooth and the sealant. We’ll again rinse and dry your child’s molar before applying the liquid sealant to the tooth’s grooves. Then, we’ll use a blue light to harden the sealant. Once the sealant is hardened, your child is ready to go!
How Long Do Sealants Last?
Dental sealants last for several years before they need to be reapplied. At each regular checkup, we’ll check to see how your child’s sealants are holding up.