Dental sealants are an easy, pain-free way to help prevent cavities and are especially useful for kids. Kids can be prone to cavities if they do not form healthy brushing and flossing habits early on in childhood. A dental sealant is applied to the teeth that have grooves, mainly in the chewing or cheek surfaces of the teeth, to prevent food from getting stuck and bacteria from entering the grooves and forming cavities. Here are questions parents often have for their kids’ dentist about sealants:
1. Why isn’t brushing and flossing enough?
Sometimes the chewing grooves on a tooth are too tight for toothbrush bristles to get in to the grooves and clean out food and bacteria. Placing a sealant to seal the grooves then makes the surfaces of the teeth that have grooves more cleanable so cavities are not as easily formed. This benefits children since they are learning how to brush their teeth and still developing the hand-eye coordination to do a good job. Sometimes cleaning the back molars can be difficult since they are hard to see and reach for the undeveloped hand muscles. Most children have sufficient hand-eye coordination to clean teeth between the ages of 8-10 years old.
2. What are dental sealants made of? Are dental sealants safe?
Dental sealants are made of plastic that starts off as a liquid and flows in to the grooves of the teeth which is then hardened with a curing light. Dental sealants are very safe. The plastic materials are not made with BPA and there is no health or medical concerns associated with dental sealants according to the American Dental Association.
4. Are they expensive?
Dental insurance typically covers dental sealants. For many patients, sealants are affordable. Dental sealants save many patients money because they prevent cavities and can eliminate the need for fillings if properly cared for.
5. How are dental sealants applied?
Dental sealants are very easy to apply. The sealant is applied directly to the tooth, where it bonds to the enamel. The liquid plastic flows in to every groove in the tooth and essentially makes the surface smooth and cleanable. This boosts the effectiveness of brushing and flossing. It’s quick and pain-free.
6. Do they last a long time?
A sealant can last for years. Depending on how children care for their teeth and what foods they eat, the sealants may stay in place for life. Sticky, tacky foods can pull sealants off however. Your dentist may also apply touch-ups at every visit to ensure the sealant will last even longer.
7. Do they require special care?
A dental sealant does not require specific care or maintenance. Your child will be able to eat and drink normally and can eat his or her favorite foods with the exception of sticky foods like taffy or Tootsie rolls for example. Your child can brush and floss normally. There are no special mouth washes or rinses required. In fact, your child can eat the same day the sealant is applied.
Dental sealants are a great way to protect your children’s permanent teeth from decay and cavities. Ask us today to see if they are the right option for your child!