Dental Sealants Stop Cavities in Their Tracks
One of the hard truths in dentistry is that kids get cavities. Children crave sugar with a ferocity that is near impossible to contain. They also just aren’t patient or dexterous enough to adequately clean their teeth. So try as they might, it is very common to get cavities. Fortunately as they age they tend to improve their cleaning and get fewer cavities. But it is essential to protect the permanent teeth as they come in. That’s where dental sealants come in.
Sealants are very thin layers of resin which are bonded to the chewing surfaces of teeth. They fill in the rough pits and grooves of the teeth. They prevent food from getting stuck in the teeth and create a smooth surface which is a piece of cake to clean. They are typically placed only on permanent molars but are occasionally placed on at risk baby teeth too. They are usually slightly whiter than the teeth but can sometimes be clear. Either way they blend into the teeth nicely and are not readily noticeable.
Sealants are easy and quick to place. Depending on the cooperation of the child, they can be placed in about 10-15 minutes. They are completely painless and there are no shots or drilling involved. Even the most anxious of children rarely put up a fuss when sealants are applied!
Sealants should be placed as the permanent teeth begin erupting. The first molar usually erupts back behind the baby teeth at around 5 or 6. Many times, parents are shocked to find their child already has permanent teeth because there are no teeth that fall out before the first molars erupt. The sealants are very thin but are made of a strong resin. They typically last between 2 and 3 years. So they should be evaluated at each check-up and replaced as necessary. The second molars erupt around 11 or 12 and they should be sealed as well. They should be maintained until about 16 or so. Sometimes we continue to maintain the sealants in high risk individuals but in most cases sealants are not as beneficial past that age.
Sealants are an important preventative tool in our arsenal to keep kids permanent teeth stay health and free from tooth decay.