Dental sealants, or pit and fissure sealants as they’re also known, are thin protective coatings used by dentists to defend the teeth against decay-causing bacteria. Made from medical-grade resin, these sealants are typically applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, i.e., the molars and premolars, which have naturally occurring grooves and pits where food particles can easily get stuck and give rise to cavities.
While brushing and flossing can remove food particles and plaque from the smooth surfaces of teeth, the toothbrush bristles often can’t reach all the way into the depressions and grooves of the back teeth. That’s where dental sealants come in – providing a smooth surface that covers the crevices, effectively keeping out food particles and bacteria.
The Significance of Dental Sealants in Pediatric Dentistry
Dental sealants have become a vital part of pediatric dentistry due to their exceptional ability to prevent cavities, one of the most common childhood diseases. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “school-age children without sealants have almost three times more cavities than children with sealants.” This statistic alone speaks volumes about the preventive potential of dental sealants.
Although dental sealants are primarily recommended for children, they can also be beneficial for adults who have deep grooves in their teeth and are prone to cavities.
In-Depth Exploration of Dental Sealants Benefits
Understanding the benefits of dental sealants can help you make an informed decision about this preventive dental treatment. Here’s what you need to know:
- Efficient Cavity Prevention: Dental sealants create a barrier that prevents food particles and bacteria from settling into the pits and grooves of molars and causing cavities. This protection significantly reduces the risk of tooth decay.
- Long-lasting Coverage: Dental sealants can provide protection from decay for up to 10 years with proper care. During regular dental check-ups, your dentist will inspect the sealants for chipping or wear and reapply them if necessary.
- Simple and Painless Procedure: The process of applying dental sealants is straightforward, non-invasive, and painless. It doesn’t require drilling or removing tooth structure, making it an easy preventive option for children.
- Cost-effective Protection: While there is an upfront cost for applying sealants, they can save you money in the long run by avoiding the need for fillings, crowns, or caps used to fix decayed teeth.
Timing and Application of Dental Sealants
The first permanent molars, often called “6-year molars,” usually emerge between the ages of 5 and 7, while the second permanent molars or “12-year molars” erupt between the ages of 11 and 14. It’s recommended to seal these molars as soon as they appear to ensure they’re protected from cavities right from the start. The application process is quick and painless, with each tooth taking only a few minutes.
Sealants can also be applied to baby teeth if your dentist determines they have deep depressions and grooves. Since baby teeth play an essential role in keeping the correct spacing for permanent teeth, it’s important to keep these teeth healthy to ensure a correct bite in the future.
Dental Sealants and Your Child’s Dental Health
While dental sealants are a fantastic preventive measure, they don’t replace good oral hygiene practices. Regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups are still essential to maintain overall oral health. Dental sealants are just one part of a comprehensive dental care plan that includes good dietary habits, use of fluoride, regular dental cleanings, and managing any orthodontic issues as necessary.
Potential Concerns and Care for Dental Sealants
As with any dental procedure, it’s natural for parents to have questions or concerns about dental sealants. One question that arises is about Bisphenol A (BPA), a compound found in various plastic products, including some dental sealants. However, the American Dental Association has stated that the potential BPA exposure from dental sealants is insignificant and poses no known health risks.
As for caring for dental sealants, there’s no special treatment required. Normal brushing and flossing habits should continue. However, your dentist may recommend avoiding hard or chewy candies that could potentially chip or dislodge the sealant.
Making the Decision for Dental Sealants
Ultimately, the decision to use dental sealants on your child’s teeth is a personal one, but it should be made in consultation with your dental professional. Understanding the dental sealants benefits can significantly aid in this decision-making process. Dental sealants are a highly effective, non-invasive, and cost-effective method to combat cavities and ensure a healthier future for your child’s teeth.
At India Hook Dental, we are more than happy to answer any questions you may have about dental sealants or any other aspect of oral health. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for advice, guidance, or to set up a consultation.