Sealants for Children
What Are Sealants?
Sealants protect your child’s teeth from decay. Daily brushing, flossing and fluorides help the fight against dental disease, and in conjunction with the use of sealants, will give your child’s teeth a better barrier to keep food and plaque out of cavity-prone areas.
Sealants are tough, plastic-like materials that are bonded directly onto the tooth enamel. They are applied quickly and easily by either the dentist or dental assistant.
How Are Sealants Applied?
The teeth are thoroughly cleaned to remove any bacteria or debris. An etchant (which chemically roughens the tooth surface) is applied for 10 seconds and enables the sealant to bond to the tooth better. The etchant is washed thoroughly and the tooth is dried.
The liquid sealant is then painted on the surface of the tooth, where it flows into the pits and fissures. These fissures are susceptible to dental decay because the bacteria/plaque hide in the deep grooves of the teeth, making them very difficult to clean properly. Once the sealant has flowed into the deep grooves of the tooth, a light is used to cure the plastic material.
When Should Sealants Be Applied?
Tooth decay occurs much more quickly in children than in adults. A thorough examination by your dentist will determine if your child is a good candidate for fissure sealants.
What Criteria Determine Whether or Not I (or My Child) Get Fissure Sealants?
Certain criteria must be met in order to successfully complete this treatment:
Deep grooves in baby teeth. Some children have deeper grooves than others and meet the criteria necessary for this treatment.
When the first set of permanent molars erupt between the ages of 6 and 13. These are the cavity prone years (usually the adult molars all have deeper grooves on the biting surface)!
Success of this treatment will be affected by the cooperation of the child. It is essential that the area to be sealed is completely dry during the procedure, therefore certain steps are necessary and patient cooperation will determine the outcome of the treatment. Careful step-by-step instructions will be given throughout the appointment to ease your child and guide him/her through the procedure.
How Long Do Sealants Last?
Sealants usually last many years. During every 6 month re-care check, the dentist will re-examine the sealant to ensure that it remains in place to continue the protective seal. Habits such as grinding (bruxism) or chewing on ice or other hard substances can dislodge or damage the sealant. If this occurs, a new sealant can be applied very easily.
Decay & Sealants
If the decay process has already started, it is often too late to apply sealants. The decay cannot start under a properly applied sealant because the decay-causing bacteria are deprived of the oxygen and food required to grow.
If the decay is at the beginning stages and not too significant, it may not be too late to seal.