A dental sealant is an ultra-thin plastic shield that is applied to the chewing surfaces of back teeth. Ideally sealants are best placed before teeth are exposed to dental decay. This makes having your child see the dentist no later than age five a critical priority.
In a perfect world, children should be making their initial visit to the dentist shortly after their first birthday. These early dental visits allow the child to have a comfort level with dental exams, and allow children to be acclimated to treatment by age four or five. Since molars that should receive sealants usually come in around age six, the child will be comfortable for this preventive treatment.
In some cases, children with unusually deep grooves in their baby teeth may benefit from sealants being placed on those teeth. Understanding the importance of baby teeth to the development of permanent teeth makes premature loss of baby teeth to dental decay a serious consideration.
Dental sealants do not require any anesthetic. The sealant material is applied to teeth that have been cleaned, dried and prepared for sealants. Once the sealant is applied, often a curing light or laser is employed to facilitate hardening.
Seeing the dentist twice per year for a clinical cleaning and dental exam will allow for consistent monitoring of dental sealants.
The sealant will penetrate the nooks and grooves of the chewing surface of the back teeth preventing food particles from penetrating the enamel of the treated teeth. If food and bacteria are blocked, dental decay will be kept at bay on these surfaces where cavities are most likely to occur in children.
Dental sealants should not be considered a green light for consuming endless soda and sugary foods and snacks. Dental sealants can protect chewing surfaces, but not the rest of the teeth surfaces.
Children should also be taught at a very early age about the importance of brushing daily and taught how to use dental floss.
Seeing the dentist twice per year for a clinical cleaning and dental exam will allow for consistent monitoring of dental sealants. Although sealants should last for several years, it is possible to experience a crack or chip in a sealant requiring re-application.
Adults may also benefit from sealants on teeth free from dental decay. For advice about which options are available to you, contact our experienced team at Alpine Dental Center for an informative consultation.