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What Are Dental Sealants? How They Can Help Protect Your Child’s Teeth

As a parent, you want to do everything you can to protect your child. Shouldn’t you apply that philosophy to their teeth, too? Your child will start to get their permanent teeth around age 6, and those teeth have to last them a lifetime. Properly caring for those teeth as soon as they come in is necessary to ensure that your child’s smile stays healthy for life.

Unfortunately, your child is still at risk for cavities and tooth decay even with proper brushing and flossing. If you’re asking what more you can do to protect your child’s teeth, the answer lies with dental sealants. You may be wondering: what are dental sealants? If so, read on to learn more about dental sealants and how they can help your child’s teeth.

What Are Dental Sealants?

Dental sealants are protective barriers that cover the chewing surfaces of your child’s permanent teeth. Adult teeth contain pits and fissures, and it’s easy for food to get caught in these divots. The food becomes a breeding ground for bacteria that can result in cavities and tooth decay. Your child will start getting their adult teeth around age 6, and that’s when they become a candidate for dental sealants.

To help prevent bacteria from building up in these fissures, your child’s dentist can apply dental sealants to their teeth. The sealants are plastic-like coverings that fill in all the little nooks and crannies in the teeth so food can’t get stuck there. They’re impervious to bacteria, saliva, and food particles. Paired with preventative dental care, dental sealants will ensure that your child’s teeth stay as healthy as possible.

When Should My Child Get Dental Sealants?

Children as young as age 6 may be candidates for dental sealants, depending on when their adult teeth erupt. Because of what dental sealants are, they’re best-suited for deeply-grooved teeth like molars. Children usually get their first set of molars at age 6, and they get another set at age 12. In order to best protect their teeth, dental sealants should be applied as soon as the teeth erupt. Make an appointment to have dental sealants applied as soon as they get their first set of molars, and you can make another appointment when the second set comes in.

Even if your child is brushing and flossing properly, the fissures in their teeth may still not being cleaned properly. By getting your child fitted with dental sealants, that’s a risk that you don’t have to take. Preventing early dental problems will help keep your child’s permanent teeth healthy all their life.

The Application Process

It usually only takes one visit to apply dental sealants. There is no drilling or anesthetic required for the application of dental sealants. Of course, if your child feels anxious about the procedure, sedation dentistry is always an option. Since the process is completely painless, however, most children do just fine during the procedure.

There are several steps that your child’s dentist will take to apply the sealants:

  • Your child’s dentist will clean and polish their teeth to make sure there is no debris or plaque.
  • The teeth that are receiving dental sealants are isolated and dried.
  • An acid etch is used to roughen up the surface of the teeth.
  • Bonding material is applied to each tooth to ensure that the sealant adheres properly.
  • The dental sealant is applied.
  • Using a special light to cure the sealant, it is bonded to the tooth.

After the procedure, your child’s dentist will do a check to make sure everything went properly. Your child can eat and drink normally as soon as the procedure is over.

What dental sealants are not is a permanent solution. Your child’s dental sealants will fall out naturally after about 10 years. By then, your child will likely have developed oral hygiene habits that can keep their teeth cavity-free without the sealants.

The Efficacy of Dental Sealants

Dentist Checking Child's Teeth

To get the maximum amount of protection that dental sealants can offer, it’s best to get them applied to your child’s teeth as soon as possible. The sooner the sealants are on the teeth, the more protection they offer.

Children who get dental sealants are significantly less likely to develop cavities than children who don’t. In fact, according to the CDC, children who get dental sealants develop one-third fewer cavities.

It is estimated that dental sealants prevent against 80% of cavities in the first two years of their application. For children who are still learning best practices for taking care of their teeth, the added protection offered by dental sealants can be invaluable.

Are There Any Risks?

Dental sealants are an incredibly safe way to protect your child’s teeth. They have been in use since the 1960s and have virtually no side effects. Their safety and efficacy has been thoroughly evaluated by agencies like the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

What if dental sealants are damaged or fall out? Contact your child’s dentist to make an appointment, and they can easily repair or replace the dental sealant.

The only side effect that your child has to worry about? They may experience a sour or unpleasant taste after the dental sealants are applied. Otherwise, dental sealants offer an added layer of protection at no risk to your child.

So what are dental sealants? Most succinctly, a risk-free way of adding an extra layer of protection to your child’s teeth. Dental sealants are a great way to keep your child’s teeth healthy while they fine-tune their oral hygiene skills. Since there are essentially zero risks to getting dental sealants, there’s no reason to skip the procedure. To have your child fitted with dental sealants, make an appointment at Children’s Dentistry today. Our 6 convenient locations in the Las Vegas area make it simple and convenient. Contact us today.