While teaching children the proper way to brush and floss is key to encouraging a lifetime of healthy dental habits, professionals working in pediatric dentistry will likely agree there are few ways more effective at preventing cavities early in life than dental sealants. Sealants are also safe, affordable and easily applied in a relatively quick and painless procedure.
Sealing a Tooth’s Natural Fissures
When a dentist applies a sealant, he applies a thin coating over the tooth. This coating smooths natural pits and fissures, usually found on molars. Those fissures and grooves serve a purpose. They help grind food. Pits in and around those grooves can trap food, however, which can lead to tooth decay.
This begins with the buildup of plaque. Typically, young children brush poorly and incompletely. Many skip brushing altogether. When this happens, plaque develops along the teeth, especially in the gaps and spaces between teeth and near the gums. Dental sealants in kids helps eliminate this plaque buildup because of the protective film that forms is designed to minimize the buildup of plaque.
Helps Defend Against Gum Disease
Because it contains various forms of bacteria, excess plaque can lead to oral hygiene issues and signal the start of gum disease, or gingivitis. Left untreated, plaque buildup will wreak havoc on tooth enamel, a tooth’s natural protective barrier, and can lead to cavities. Too much bacteria can even lead to advanced periodontitis, which attacks both gum tissue and the bone that lies underneath.
It is easy to deal with plaque and prevent those possible outcomes. Once gum, bone and enamel is damaged, however, that damage cannot be reversed. Sealants, however, provide a way to easily prevent plaque buildup. Sealants on molars and premolars stop plaque in its tracks.
Encourage Good Dental Hygiene
Sealants can prevent many dental issues, but it should not be the only defense against oral disease. Parents should always teach young children how to take care of their teeth by properly brushing, rinsing and flossing.
When searching for a children’s dentist near me, make sure you ask if they do dental sealants. Not all pediatric dentists employ dental sealants in kids. Once you find the right dentist, ask about the dental services for children that are provided and ask if you can have the child’s molars and premolars evaluated to determine if they are good candidates for sealants.
Dental sealants are usually applied early in a child’s life, often between the ages of 5 and 7. This is when a child’s first permanent molars are expected to erupt. Secondary molars arrive between ages 11 and 14 and signify another good time to have teeth examined for sealing.