Dental sealants are thin coatings that are painted on the chewing surfaces of the molars (the back teeth) to prevent cavities over the timespan of years. The CDC explains that school-age children (ages 6-11) without sealants have almost 3 times more cavities than those with sealants. Here is when your child could benefit from sealants.
What are Dental Sealants?
When you brush and floss your teeth, you are preventing cavities. However, no matter how diligent you are, you can sometimes miss those tiny spaces in between around the teeth. Fortunately, there is another step you can take in protecting your most vulnerable teeth. Your molars, located at the back of your mouth, are the teeth you use to chew. These teeth have rough, uneven surfaces and are an ideal place for leftover food and bacteria to hide. To better guard these teeth, we recommend dental sealants.
MouthHealthy by the American Dental Association explains on their blog that dental sealants are a thin, protective coating (often made of plastic or other dental materials) that sticks to the chewing surface of your back teeth. While sealants protect your teeth, it doesn’t mean that you can stop brushing your teeth and flossing. However, they will be an additional cavity-fighting barrier for your teeth. Sealants have been shown to reduce the risk of decay by nearly 80% in molars — which is extremely important when it comes to your child’s oral health.
How Sealants Work
When you eat and drink certain foods and it combines with the bacteria that already lives in your mouth, it can produce acids that can begin to create holes in the teeth — also known as cavities. Once a sealant is applied, it prevents food from getting lodged in those holes and stops bacteria and acid from settling on the teeth.
Who Needs Sealants?
Due to the nature of easily developing decay in the grooves of premolars and molars, children and teenagers are most commonly the recipients of sealants. With that being said, however, adults without decay or fillings in their molars can also receive sealants. It is recommended that children get sealants on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as those teeth come in. By doing this, the sealants will protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years of ages 6 through 14.
In a few instances, dental sealants may also be used on baby teeth when they have deep depressions and grooves. It is important to protect baby teeth because they play a big part in making sure that your permanent teeth come in correctly. If a baby loses their baby teeth too early, it can set them up for years of dental issues.
Along with dental sealants, there are more things you can do to protect your teeth — and your children’s teeth — from cavities and tooth decay. To prevent cavities, you should:
- Brush your teeth twice a day. You should be brushing your teeth in the morning and before bed for two minutes each time. When you brush, it is important to clean the entire surface of each tooth gently. If you brush too harshly, you can weaken the enamel and even damage the gums. To best protect your teeth, spit out excess toothpaste when brushing but don’t rinse with water. Refrain from eating or drinking for 30 minutes after.
- Floss once a day. When you floss, you remove the food and bacteria that gets lodged between each tooth. These small spaces are difficult to reach with a toothbrush alone, which is why flossing is a critical part of your dental routine. You should aim to floss your teeth once each day.
- Incorporate fluoride. When buying your toothpaste and mouthwash, look for products that include fluoride. Fluoride is a natural-occurring substance found in the earth’s soil, and it is extremely effective in helping strengthen the teeth and fight cavities. Further, in many communities, the tap water has been fluoridated. This means that you can likely get fluoride just by drinking tap water.
- Limit sugar and acidic food and drinks. Certain things we consume, like sweets and acidic items, can create acid when met with the bacteria already in our mouths. This can quickly contribute to forming cavities. Limit the amount of these items in your diet to further prevent cavities.
- See your dentist. Ideally, you should make a trip to the dentist twice a year (every six months) so your dentist and hygienist can examine and deep clean your mouth. If they catch an early sign of cavities, they can treat them then to prevent them from further developing into a more serious issue.
Make an Appointment with Niles Family Dentistry
Cavities can be detrimental to your oral health. Whether you need to prevent or treat cavities, or your child does, we’re here for you. Make an Appointment with Niles Family Dentistry today by calling us at (720)-744-0001.