Do Your Child’s Teeth Need Extra Protection?
Even if your children brush and floss and eat a healthy diet, you may want them to have additional defense against cavities. One tool available is the dental sealant. Here’s how the application of sealants can provide that extra protection for your children’s teeth.
What is a dental sealant?
A dental sealant is a thin film of plastic that is applied to the chewing surface of teeth. It is used most frequently to prevent cavities in children’s back teeth. A dental sealant prevents bacteria from getting into the grooves on the tooth where ninety percent of tooth decay starts.
How do sealants work?
Sealants are usually placed on children’s newly erupted permanent teeth. Food particles and bacteria cannot be easily cleaned out of the narrow pits and grooves of these teeth, where most cavities occur. Thorough brushing and flossing help remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth. But toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the depressions and grooves to extract food and plaque. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas by “sealing out” plaque and food.
Since it takes only a few minutes for your dentist to seal a tooth, the overall time depends on how many teeth need to be sealed. After the teeth have been cleaned, a very thin layer of the sealant coating is “painted” onto the enamel, where it bonds directly and hardens. The clear or white coating blends easily with the natural tooth. The protection from a sealant usually lasts for several years. Your dentist will check the condition of the sealants as part of a regular dental exam. If necessary, sealants can be reapplied.
The good news? Dental sealants are very effective in protecting your child’s teeth against cavities. With good family oral health practices and regular dental exams, dental sealants are an extremely effective protection against cavities. The next time you take your kids for their dental checkups, ask about the benefits of dental sealants.
February is National Children’s Dental Health Month!!!
Remember, healthy teeth make a healthy smile!
Dr. Nishan Halim
Nishan Halim, DMD specializes in adult and pediatric dentistry with restorative and cosmetic procedures, as well as preventive dentistry, in his Capitol Hill, Washington DC neighborhood dental center. Contact the office to schedule an appointment for your child. We can help her get started on her own oral care routine.