Modern Dental Sealants Add A Safe Defense Against Tooth Decay
As a parent, you’ve undoubtedly worked hard to teach your children about the importance of proper dental hygiene, including brushing their teeth properly, flossing correctly, and the need for regular dental checkups. It’s the foundation that will help ensure they have strong, healthy teeth as they grow, and throughout their mature adult life.
However, even a strong, solid foundation will certainly benefit from some extra reinforcement and powerful protective barriers. This is where modern dental sealant treatments can provide a significant advantage for children, and why more and more parents are realizing the important benefits that they offer to their children in terms of long-term oral health.
Let’s learn more about dental sealants for children and the difference they can make!
What is a dental sealant?
First, we need to explore what a dental sealant actually is. In simplest terms, a dental sealant is a protective layer added to the teeth that forms a barrier between the enamel of the tooth and the acids & bacteria in the mouth that are responsible for cavities and tooth decay.
Dental sealants consist of an advanced liquid plastic material that is applied to the visible portions of the teeth, and then allowed to harden. Some types of sealants use a special curing light to speed up the hardening process and provide a tougher barrier. Once applied and cured, the sealants are essentially invisible, being either clear or tooth-coloured, and as such do not affect the natural look of the teeth.
Dental sealants are generally applied only to the back teeth and molars, as these are the teeth that are most prone to developing tooth decay and other problems that sealants are designed to help prevent. However, there are occasions where a dentist may feel it valuable to apply a sealant to the other teeth as well. This is usually determined on a case-by-case-basis and the unique needs of the patient.
How do dental sealants work?
While the front and side surfaces of a tooth may seem perfectly smooth to the naked eye, when examined very closely there are often tiny imperfections, fissures, and grooves. This is naturally most noticeable on the back teeth and the molars, whose top surfaces are uneven in order to effectively chew and grind tougher foods before swallowing.
When the dental sealant is applied, it flows over the surface of the tooth and in to the cracks, dips, and other imperfections, filling them in. Once the sealant hardens, it then acts as a tough outer shell on the tooth, repelling the acids and bacteria that are responsible for causing tooth decay.
When should a child get dental sealant treatment?
The most common age range for patients to receive dental sealants is between 6 and 14 years old, but this is of course not to say that all children will be viable candidates for sealants once they reach age 6.
In general, sealants are only applied to permanent adult teeth in order to protect them during the years when cavities are most likely to develop. This means that children that have not lost their baby teeth, especially their molars, will probably need to wait until their mouths have developed further before getting sealants applied.
There are some exceptions that are made for children who are shown to be more susceptible to developing tooth decay, and so in those cases sealants may be recommended in order to help prevent premature loss of baby teeth and avoid the exacerbation of potential decay problems in the future.
If your dentist has not already discussed the topic of dental sealants for your children, make a point to ask when your dentist feels that your child should get them. Your dentist will make a recommendation based on the child’s dental history and form a treatment plan that works specifically for them.
Should adults get dental sealants, too?
While certainly not as common as dental sealants for children, there are many instances where adults can benefit from the added protection of dental sealants. In essence, anyone looking for extra protection for their teeth should consider having a dental sealant treatment, and discuss this with their dentist. However, people who have had fillings or currently have existing tooth decay problems would most likely not be eligible to have a sealant applied.
How do you care for teeth after they get dental sealants?
Caring for teeth that have had dental sealants applied is extremely straightforward, and usually requires no special care beyond what would normally be needed for untreated teeth. The basics of tooth brushing and regular flossing remain essential components, and oral rinses can safely be used with no adverse effects on the materials used in dental sealants.
Aside from a normal routine of thorough oral care at home, you will of course need to maintain a regular schedule of dental checkups for your child with their dentist and hygienist. During these checkups, they will inspect the sealants and look for any potential chips, wear, or other damage that has developed since the last appointment.
How long will the sealant last, and should they be re-applied?
Dental sealants are made from a very tough material, and will protect your child’s teeth effectively for many years. In some cases, your child’s dentist may recommend a re-application if the sealant becomes damaged, or simply to extend the protective effects of the sealant for many more years to come.
What are the benefits of dental sealants?
There are many advantages to having dental sealants applied. First, the added protection against tooth decay means that the patient will be far less likely to develop cavities and other decay-related tooth problems, which helps reduce the chances that a dental filling or tooth extraction may be required in the future.
Sealants also help to reduce the number of places that food particles and bacteria can hide or build up on the teeth, which can lead to bad breath and early onset of decay. The smooth surface created by the sealant helps tooth brushing and flossing be more effective, allowing the child to make the most of their oral care routine and get a cleaner mouth as a result.
In addition, dental sealants can provide added protection for the teeth against staining or discoloration, helping to preserve the bright white colour of the teeth and maintaining a beautiful smile.
Overall, dental sealants do an excellent job of preventing many of the common oral health issues that are most prevalent among children and young adults. By investing in a little preventive action in the form of a dental sealant, you can help ward off tooth decay and other problems that can affect your child as they grow in to a young adult and in to maturity.
Where can I get more information on dental sealants for my child?
Dental sealants are a safe and very effective way to put up a defensive wall between your child’s oral health and the troubles associated with tooth decay. You can be sure that the team here at Georgian Dental will help you and your child every step of the way to ensure the best possible results.
To learn more about the potential benefits of dental sealants and to begin forming a treatment plan, contact Georgian Dental today and arrange a free, no-obligation consultation. We will be glad to walk you and your child through the entire process in a friendly and calming manner and will ensure that all questions and concerns are appropriately managed.