Preventive dental health care is a vital part of pediatric dentistry. This is why the theme of 2022 National Children’s Dental Health Month is “Sealants Make Sense.” In fact, the ADA reports that sealants on permanent molars reduce the risk of cavities by 80%. Keep reading to learn more about sealants and how they can act as your little one’s second line of defense against cavities.
Everything You Need to Know About Dental Sealants
Stats show that 20% of children between the ages of five and eleven have at least one untreated cavity. Though teaching your children to brush and floss regularly is crucial to preventing cavities and instilling lifelong oral hygiene habits in them, these habits can’t prevent dental issues altogether.
Fortunately, there is another cost-effective preventive solution pediatric dentists rely on to fight tooth decay and cavities—dental sealants!
What Are Dental Sealants?
Sealants basically act as protective armor that shields your teeth against cavities and tooth decay and prevents bacteria, plaque, acids, and food particles from harming them. They are made from thin, BPA-free plastic and are applied to the chewing surface of premolars, molars, and other teeth.
However, it’s vital to note that dental sealants cannot replace regular brushing and flossing. Conversely, they give added dental protection by keeping harmful bacteria or plaque from entering hard-to-reach areas in your child’s mouth.
When Do Children Need Dental Sealants?
Poor oral health can negatively impact your child’s quality of life. So parents and dental professionals should take proactive efforts to keep pediatric dental problems at bay. This is where sealants come into the picture. They can prevent minor issues from aggravating and growing into complications for your child later in life.
In fact, research shows that school-aged children without sealants have three times more cavities than those with sealants. This is because the rough, uneven surfaces and deeper grooves of molars and premolars make perfect hiding spots for bacteria and food debris. Considering this, it's always best to apply dental sealants once the child’s molars come in.
Children get their first permanent molars between the ages of 6 and 7. The use of dental sealants right from the start will effectively help keep these molars cavity-free from the start.
It is critical to talk to a professional pediatric dentist about your child’s oral health needs before getting sealants. These experts can help you figure out the appropriate time to get dental sealants for your child. The earlier your little one gets sealants; the higher are their chances of preventing cavity-related complications.
Sealants can also be an effective preventive option for adults, provided they don’t already have dental fillings or tooth decay.
How Are Sealants Applied?
Now that we’ve established sealants are an essential part of preventive dental care, let’s learn about what you can expect from the deal sealant application process. There is no need to worry about your child being in pain since the procedure is relatively simple, short, and pain-free.
Your pediatric dentist will thoroughly clean the teeth to be treated before applying the sealants. The experts will then wash and dry each tooth and place cotton or another absorbent material around it to keep it dry. The dentist will then apply an acid solution on the chewing surface to help the sealant bond to the teeth. Post this, the teeth are rinsed and dried. The sealant is applied directly onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds to the tooth and hardens. In some cases, a special curing light is used to set the sealant faster.
Benefits of Dental Sealants for Your Children
Dentists usually apply sealants after a routine cleaning to rid your child’s oral cavity of existing bacteria and plaque. Your child can get back to their usual diet almost immediately after the sealant is applied.
With prompt follow-up care, dental sealants have a success rate of 80% to 90% and will continue protecting your children from cavities for around a whole decade. That being said, sealants can become loose over time. This is why most dentists insist on inspecting sealants to make sure they are still in place during pediatric dental check-ups.
It is essential to put in consistent efforts to prolong the durability of dental sealants and prevent cavities. It’s always a good idea to restrict the number of hard candies and other hard treats your children eat since these treats can impact the lifespan of sealants adversely. Additionally, you must also ensure that your child brushes and flosses daily. Teaching your kids healthy oral hygiene practices from a young age can go a long way in guaranteeing long-term oral health.
Do Sealants Make Sense?
The answer to this is a resounding yes—especially if your child has an insatiable sweet tooth (as most children do). Sealants can minimize the damage sweets cause, making them one of the most important preventive dental care tools in your arsenal. Besides protecting your child from cavities, dental sealants also allow you to save money and valuable time you may otherwise spend on corrective and restorative dental treatments in the future. So, clearly, sealants do make sense when it comes to preventive dental care!
If you are looking for preventive dental care treatments for your little one in Coralville, Iowa, book an appointment with the pediatric dental team at The Children’s Dental Center. We offer various preventive dental care services, including dental sealants, to protect your little one’s smile. Our team of dental experts is dedicated to ensuring that your child gets the best dental care. So if you have further questions as well as checking on your insurance covering the costs of sealants, feel free to check out our patient resources here or contact us today to book an appointment for your little one.