Sealants offer excellent prevention against tooth decay for children. They are like raincoats for the teeth that provide a barrier between teeth and bacteria and acids that contribute to tooth decay. Sealants are a plastic-like material that is painted onto the chewing surfaces of a child’s back teeth (premolars and molars). This is the area where tooth decay most often develops. While thorough brushing and flossing are key in removing food particles and plaque from smooth tooth surfaces, toothbrush bristles are often unable to reach into depressions and grooves of these back teeth to remove all particles. Sealants protect these vulnerable spots.
Sealants are highly effective in the prevention of cavities. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), sealants can reduce cavities by 86% in the first year following their application, and nearly 60% after four years.
The application process is quick, simple and totally painless. The first step is to clean the tooth that will be treated. After that, a special gel is applied to the chewing surface. Next, after a few seconds, the gel is washed off. Then the tooth is dried. The final step is to paint the sealant material onto the surface of the tooth. The sealant fills the pits and fissures of the tooth and hardens, providing a shield.
Generally, sealants are applied between the ages of 6 and 13. These are the years in which children are most cavity-prone. However, in some cases, sealants are recommended for adults, as well.
Sealants are extremely durable and can last up to ten years. Sometimes no reapplication is necessary. The dentists at Kids Dental will check the condition of your child’s sealants during routine dental cleanings.
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