The most common location for a cavity to develop in your child’s mouth is on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. This is because, unlike the other areas if the teeth, these surfaces aren’t smooth. They’re filled with small grooves called pits and fissures that trap food particles and bacteria. Often the lack of good brushing habits makes matters worse, the toothbrush cannot always reach these little crevices with superficial brushing, allowing the perfect conditions for tooth decay.
Another important thing to consider is that the newly erupted permanent teeth of a child aren’t as resistant to decay compared to adult teeth. The enamel coating that protects the teeth becomes stronger as it ages. Fluoride can strengthen enamel, but it can be hard to regularly get fluoride on those pits and fissures. It’s a good thing that there’s a solution to this: dental sealants.
What are Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are clear plastic resin coatings that protect the pitted and grooved teeth surfaces by applying a thin protective film on teeth surfaces. Most resin based sealants contain glycidyl dimethacrylate, a nontoxic derivative of bisphenol A. Teeth that are sealed in children between 6-12 years old have a much less chance at developing a cavity, require costly dental treatment in the future and cause the child any pain.
How do Dental Sealants Work?
Even when your child carefully brushes and flosses, it’s hard, even impossible, to clean the small pits and groves on certain teeth. Bacteria and food build up in these tiny crevices, putting your child at a higher risk of tooth decay. Most dental sealants for kids do a great job of preventing food and plaque to harden on tooth surfaces and cause tooth decay.
How Long do Dental Sealants Last?
Research has shown that dental sealants can last for several years when properly cared for. Therefore your child is protected during those cavity-prone years. For as long as your child avoids biting hard objects and has good oral hygiene, sealants last longer than most dentists care to admit. Your dentist can check on the sealants during your routine visits and recommend repair or reapplication as necessary.
How are Dental Sealants Applied?
Applying dental sealants is easy for most dentists and even hygienists and quick, often takes less than 15 -30 minutes. First, the tooth is cleaned, conditioned and dried. The sealant is then applied to all exterior surfaces of the tooth. The hygienist uses a special UV light source to harden the resin after application. Within 30 minutes after the appointment, your child should be able to eat.
How Much are Dental Sealants?
The treatment is very affordable, especially considering the tooth decay protection is gives your child. Many dental insurance companies do cover sealants, although there are some with specific age and number of applications that limit coverage. Check with your dentist provider first to see if your child is covered. You can also talk to the best kids dentist in your area about the exact cost of sealants for your child.
Remember that even when your child already has dental sealants, brushing and flossing are still very important. Sealants are just one step in the fight against cavities. Brushing and flossing, along with a balanced diet and regular dentist visits are still very important in preventing tooth decay in children and having a healthy and bright smile.