SEALANTS Explained!

In our last blog, we covered different aspects of preventive dentistry.  Sealants are another method used in our office to help protect your child’s teeth from developing decay.  We will go over what a sealant is, how it is applied to the tooth, and why it is great for helping to protect the teeth.

A sealant is a thin plastic layer applied to the chewing surface of the tooth.  Generally, they are placed on permanent molars (and sometimes premolars).  As long as they are fully intact, they protect the chewing surface of the tooth from collecting food as well as plaque and bacteria.  They can usually last up to three years, but you should ask your dentist periodically to see if they need to be touched up or reapplied.

When a sealant is applied, it is necessary for the tooth to be clean and to remain dry during the entire process.  Make sure your child brushes their teeth very well, especially the back teeth, before they come in for sealants.  The operator will also check to ensure they are properly cleaned.  Once the tooth is prepped, the white sealant material will be painted onto the chewing surface and cured with a special light.  After it is cured (assuming the tooth remained dry during the procedure) the sealant will be hardened and will adhere to the tooth.

Sealants are a great addition to preventive dentistry because they provide a barrier between the chewing surface and food/bacteria.  Molars can have deep grooves and pits that collect bacteria, so even with proper brushing it may be hard to keep them clean.  Children get their first molars when they are around six and their second molars when they are around twelve years old.  You will want to make an appointment for sealants soon after those teeth erupt.  Don’t forget you still need to brush and floss!  Sealants only protect the chewing surface 


When you find your child’s dental home, you and the dental team will work to help your kiddo achieve optimal oral health.  Part of this goal is striving toward preventive dentistry.  There are many procedures, products, and techniques that are in place to help your child have good dental experiences and a healthy mouth.

The most important part of preventive dentistry is what you and your kiddo do at home.  Generally speaking, your child sees the dental team every six months.  We stress the importance of proper brushing and flossing each time we see your child to remind them how decay occurs and how it can be prevented.  We will also generally tell parents to brush and floss for their child until they are old enough to just have mom and dad “check”.  You may need to remind your child that flossing every day is just as important as brushing when it comes to preventing cavities and gingivitis (you can see other blog articles for more information).

Another aspect of preventive dentistry we emphasize in our office is fluoride.  Fluoride is very important for preventing decay or from stopping the progression of cavities that are forming.  With your permission, we use a fluoride varnish on your child every six months, which is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.  We also encourage you to have your child drink tap water if it has fluoride in it or talk to your dentist about a fluoride supplement if you live in a non-fluoridated area.

Another important part of preventive dentistry is dental x-rays.  We take them once a year to ensure early diagnosis of decay or to monitor other concerns.  If we are “watching teeth”, that means your child has started forming cavities in some areas but the decay isn’t big enough to justify restoring those teeth.  We will take x-rays every six months to monitor the teeth we are “watching”.  The x-rays in our office are digital and have an extremely safe dose of radiation approved by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

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