What are dental sealants?
A dental sealant is a special plastic-like material that is placed in the pits and fissures or chewing surfaces of the permanent molar teeth at the back of the mouth. Sealants are beneficial because they fill up the deep grooves. This is the vulnerable area where cavities tend to form.
Where are dental sealants placed?
Sealants are preventive treatments that are usually placed on permanent molars but can, also, be placed on specific baby teeth that are in danger of getting cavities. Sealants are a great way of protecting hard to reach teeth that are not always brushed properly. Since these teeth are particularly involved in chewing, they are the ones that get exposed to food and bacteria on a constant basis.
Why should a child get dental sealants?
Since these molars are in the back of the mouth, young children often neglect brushing them. These teeth are particularly prone to cavities because the chewing surface of these teeth have very deep grooves that easily hide food and bacteria. Often times, it is impossible to thoroughly clean these surfaces with a regular tooth brush. Over time, the combination of food and bacteria can cause dental decay - sealants can help interrupt this process.
When should dental sealants be placed?
A child’s first set of permanent molars erupt at around age 6. The second molars erupt at around age 12. The second molars will need to be protected by dental sealants, too. Placing sealants as soon as these teeth erupt can help protect them from future cavities.
How are dental sealants placed?
Sealant placement is considered non-invasive and the patient does not need to be numb during this procedure. In order to prepare the tooth to accept the sealant, an acid etch material is placed on the tooth for one minute then washed off. The tooth is completely dried and the sealant material is painted on to the tooth. A special light is used to help harden the sealant material. The entire procedure is completed in a couple of minutes.
Is it possible to get cavities if dental sealants are present?
Improper oral hygiene, lack of brushing and flossing and eating sugary foods will cause cavities to occur. While sealants may decrease the chances of getting cavities, the only way to completely prevent tooth decay is to develop and regularly practice good oral hygiene habits.