Sealants are a thin composite coating that creates a harden shield over the tooth to help protect against cavities in the hard to reach surfaces. Dental sealants go on the back molars because these teeth are the hardest to clean with a toothbrush alone. We typically wait until age six to apply them as this is when most children get their first set of molars.
According to the American Dental Association, 70 percent of all children have some form of tooth decay by the time they reach their 19th birthday. At Bay Area Kids Dentist, we use dental sealants for children as an additional tool to protect their teeth from decay so they don’t become part of this statistic. The procedure is quick, easy, and painless. Even so, our dentists always describe what they are doing using terms kids can understand. We let them know that the sealant is just one more way we can help them keep their teeth clean and healthy.
How We Apply Sealants for Kids
The first step in the process involves cleaning the tooth so the sealant will remain in place. Your child’s dentist will use a small brush attached to a dental drill for the cleaning. If the noise appears to frighten your child, his or her dentist will stop to explain the procedure a bit more. Our dentist then brushes off any debris loosened by the drill.
Next, one of our pediatric dentists will apply etching gel over the area where the dental sealant will go. The gel needs to remain on the tooth for approximately one minute to create a sticky enough adhesive for the sealant. After that time has passed, your child’s dentist wipes the tooth clean and uses an air gun to dry it.
The final step is to apply the liquid sealant into the grooves of the back teeth. Its liquid form allows it to cover the entire surface area of the tooth, particularly the grooves and fissures. These areas have the highest potential to trap food that remains in the mouth and slowly turns into bacteria. Lastly, our dentist uses a curing light to ensure that the sealant hardens in place. He or she will do one last check to make sure that the sealant doesn’t interfere with your child’s normal bite. The entire process takes approximately five minutes.
Benefits of Dental Sealants
Dental sealants for kids can last up to 10 years. The American Dental Association reports that children who have had them placed show an 86 percent reduction in cavities after one year and 58 percent after four years. In order to ensure their longevity and keep cavities at bay, it’s essential to teach your child good oral hygiene habits. This includes brushing their teeth at least twice per day, flossing, avoiding habits such as teeth clenching, and eating healthy foods.
Parents who never had dental sealants themselves sometimes don’t see the benefit of their children getting them. The staff at Bay Area Kids Dentist would be happy to discuss this procedure with you in more detail during a personal consultation.