Preventive dentistry is extremely important in pediatric dentistry. We are given the chance to help mold the oral health habits of young children so they have a future of healthy smiles their entire lives. One of the tools we use to help ensure a cavity-free future is dental sealants. Some parents may remember getting sealants themselves as children (or even in adulthood!) but there are many people who are still unfamiliar with this easy and effective preventive dentistry technique.
If you look at the back teeth in your mouth, you’ll notice lots of little grooves and crevices on the biting surfaces of the molars and premolars. Those grooves are where the majority of cavities form in permanent teeth, and so dentists have developed a special treatment to seal the grooves and prevent cavities. Thus the name “sealants”! Even the smallest toothbrush bristles can’t get into the microscopic grooves to clean, so dentists recommend sealants to prevent food and bacteria from hiding out in the back teeth.
The first set of permanent molars usually erupt around age 6, and we recommend sealants for these molars as soon as they are completely in the mouth. The next set of permanent molars erupt around age 12, and we also suggest sealants for these teeth. Applying sealants is painless, quick, and only requires about 15 to 20 minutes. There are several steps involved to prime the tooth before applying the actual sealant, but every step is easy with no numbing required. The final product is white and hardly noticeable! All of the sealant materials in our office are BPA-free and safe for children of all ages.
Children can eat and drink right after sealants are applied, but we recommend avoiding all sticky, chewy, gooey candies and foods in order to help the sealants stick to the teeth (and because they’re not good for you anyway!). Your child’s bite might feel funny for a day or two after getting sealants, but the teeth will quickly adjust and your child should be used to them within a few days. It is possible for sealants to wear away over time (especially if your child grinds their teeth at night), so we will monitor the sealants at every wellcare visit to ensure they are fully intact.