Did you know that almost half of toddlers will develop a cavity between the ages of 2 and 11? Cavities occur as a result of tooth decay, which is damage that occurs from bacteria eating away at the teeth.
Your child doesn’t have to be one of those children who develops a cavity. There are steps you can take to ensure that your child’s teeth stay healthy and protected against harmful bacteria with a preventative procedure called dental sealants. Here’s how to prevent tooth decay with dental sealants.
What Are Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are protective barriers that are custom-fit to cover the chewing surfaces of the teeth. When your child’s permanent teeth grow in, these teeth have pits and fissures that make it easy for food to get stuck. If food gets into these crevices, the bacteria that causes tooth decay will feed on it.
How can you prevent tooth decay in your child’s new permanent teeth? Talk to your child’s dentist about dental sealants. These sealants are plastic-like coverings that are fitted over the bottom of your child’s teeth. They fill in all the tiny spaces and crevices so that no food can get caught, and they’re impervious to bacteria, saliva, and food particles. Along with regular dental cleanings, dental sealants are the best answer to how to prevent tooth decay.
When to Consider Dental Sealants
Your child’s eligibility for dental sealants depends on when their adult teeth erupt. Usually, children get their first set of adult molars at around age 6, and they get another set around age 12. Due to the nature of dental sealants, they work best when applied to teeth with deeply groove, large chewing surfaces such as molars.
To provide the maximum level of protection against tooth decay, dental sealants should be applied as soon as possible after the eruption of the molars. Dental sealants will provide protection as soon as they’re applied, so it behooves you to make your child’s appointment early. In order to protect both sets of molars, you’ll need to make two appointments: one after they get their first set at age 6, and another when they get their second set around age 12.
Your child may be very thorough when it comes to brushing and flossing their teeth, but they may still not be properly cleaning all of the fissures in their new teeth, which puts them at risk for tooth decay. Don’t take a chance on your child developing a cavity. Your child only gets one set of permanent teeth to last their whole life, so you should take every precaution to protect them.
The Application Process
Dental sealants can normally be applied in just one visit to the dentist, and they don’t require any drilling or anesthetic. For children who are particularly anxious or have trouble sitting still, sedation dentistry is an option that you can discuss. However, most children have no trouble with the procedure since it is entirely painless.
- In order to apply the sealants, your child’s dentist will:
- Clean and polish your child’s teeth to remove any debris or plaque
- Isolate and dry the teeth that are receiving dental sealants
- Roughen the surface of the teeth using an acid etch
- Apply bonding material to each tooth to ensure that the sealant adheres properly
- Apply the dental sealant to each tooth
- Use a special light to cure the sealant and bond it to the tooth.
After all of the dental sealants have been applied, the dentist will check each tooth to make sure the sealants were applied properly.
The dentist can explain to your child how to prevent tooth decay with their new sealants. While the dental sealants will protect against bacteria for a long time, they aren’t a permanent solution. After about 10 years, the sealants will fall out on their own. By then, your child’s oral health habits should be adequate to prevent tooth decay without the help of sealants.
There are virtually no risks associated with dental sealants aside from the possibility of a slight unpleasant taste right after the sealants are applied. Your child can eat and drink normally right after the procedure.
If your child suffers from a lost or damaged dental sealant, be sure to make an appointment with their dentist right away. The dentist should be able to easily repair any broken or lost sealants with a new one.
Other Tips for Preventing Tooth Decay
In addition to having your child fitted with dental sealants, there are other steps that you can take to keep your child’s teeth free from tooth decay. These include:
- Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
- Flossing between your teeth twice a day
- Eating a nutritious, balanced diet
- Staying away from sticky or starchy snacks
- Avoiding sugary fruit juices and soda
- Getting supplemental fluoride treatments from your child’s dentist
- Scheduling regular dental appointments to get your child’s teeth cleaned
When paired with dental sealants, these tips can help keep your child’s teeth cavity free for years to come. Make sure to encourage good brushing and flossing habits. The oral health habits that are developed in childhood will carry over into adulthood, so set your child up for success.
Once you learn how to prevent tooth decay with dental sealants, the procedure seems like an obvious choice. The downsides are minimal, and the benefits are healthy teeth that will last a lifetime. So much of parenting is spent preparing your child for the rest of their lives, and their oral care is no different. Dental sealants will make sure that their adult teeth stay healthy until your child is old enough to care for them on their own. To schedule an appointment to get your child fitted with dental sealants at Children’s Dentistry, contact us at any one of our locations today.