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