Children are more susceptible to developing cavities than adults are. In fact, it’s one of the most common illnesses that affects children. The good news is that cavities can be prevented. For many people, cavities are prevented by a good brushing and flossing routine, however, sometimes dental sealants may be needed. Are they safe for children, though? Yes! In fact, dental sealants have been shown to reduce the risk of tooth decay in nearly 80% of molars. This is what you need to know about the benefits your child could experience from dental sealants.
What are Dental Sealants?
A dental sealant is a thin, plastic coating that is painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth to prevent tooth decay. Usually, it’s applied to the back teeth (the premolars and molars). The sealant quickly bonds into the depressions and grooves of the teeth, forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth. WebMD simply explains the process of having sealants applied:
- First, the teeth are cleaned thoroughly.
- Each tooth will then be dried, and an absorbent material like cotton is put around the tooth to keep it dry.
- An acid solution is put on the chewing surfaces of the teeth to roughen them up. This helps the sealant bond to the teeth.
- The teeth are then rinsed and dried again.
- Sealant is then painted onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. Sometimes a special curing light is used to help the sealant harden.
- Once this process is complete, the teeth are protected for up to ten years in some patients.
Dental Sealants and Children
At some point in caring for your child’s smile, you will more than likely hear about dental sealants. When you hear about these, especially when it comes to your child, you might wonder if they’re safe for the children. The answer? Yes. Dental sealants are safe and recommended for children to help prevent tooth decay. In fact, children aged 6 to 11 years old who don’t have sealants are three times more likely to develop cavities than children who do have sealants.
Colgate explains that sealants are a common addition to long-term oral care, just like fluoride is. The use of both fluoride and sealants in children is one of the best ways to prevent costly dental work later on in life, like the need for crowns or fillings.
Dental Care in Children
A healthy smile begins before your child even has teeth and continues even when they just have their baby teeth. Caring for baby teeth and keeping them healthy helps set your adult teeth up for success.
Baby teeth are placeholders for the permanent teeth. If they are lost due to decay or other issues, it can wreak havoc on your child’s smile when the adult teeth begin to erupt. To care for your child’s teeth, follow these tips:
- Before they have teeth, gently wipe their gums with a soft washcloth to clean them.
- Once they’re baby teeth come in, begin brushing their teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a rice-grain size amount of toothpaste. Once they’re over the age of three, use a pea-sized amount. Teeth should be brushed twice a day for two minutes each time.
- As they get older, continue watching them brush their teeth until they learn how to do it — and do it well — on their own.
- Floss their teeth as soon as two teeth are touching together.
- Take your child to the dentist as soon as they turn one or get their first tooth, whichever is sooner. After this, your child should be having regular dental checkups every six months.
Maintaining Oral Hygiene
As adults, maintaining oral hygiene is still important. Dental sealants can be beneficial for adults, too. Further, maintaining good oral hygiene is one of the most important things you can do for your teeth and gums. Healthy teeth look and feel good, but they also allow you to eat and speak like you’re meant to. Daily preventative care through brushing and flossing can help stop problems before they develop — just like sealants and fluoride can, too!
Make an Appointment with Niles Family Dentistry
Dr. Ashley Niles and her team at Niles Family Dentistry are here for your entire family’s dental health needs. If you need an exam or just want to learn more about dental sealants, call us today for an appointment at (720)-744-0001.