The loss of a child’s first tooth is an unstated rite of passage usually characterized by excitement and toothless grins. Your little bundle of joy is now a bit closer toward becoming an adult. The baby tooth that has just fallen out is making way for a permanent (“adult”) tooth.
But after the photos have been captured and the congratulations have been offered, parents ought to think about how best to protect their little ones’ new adult teeth. Dental sealants, for instance, are one way to give your child a head start on maintaining a healthy mouth for their lifetime.
What are Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are thin, plastic coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of teeth. These are usually applied to molars or premolars – teeth that have deep grooves or depressions – to add an extra layer of protection against tooth decay and cavities. Imagine dental sealants as a shield to deflect food particles and bacteria from your child’s hard-to-reach, back teeth.
Who is a Good Candidate for Sealants?
Usually, the most cavity prone years in a person’s life are between ages 6-14, when sugar intake is high and thorough oral hygiene routines are short. Therefore, children who have new permanent teeth are great candidates for dental sealants.
In fact, a recent report published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that sealants were an extremely effective method for preventing cavities on permanent back teeth, but that a majority of children do not have them. Furthermore, this same report speculated that children aged 6-11 who do not have sealants have nearly three times more cavities on their first molars than children of the same age who do have sealants.
Dental sealants are not only for school-aged children, however. Your dentist may recommend dental sealants for adults who do not have fillings or tooth decay on their molars, to provide the same protection. Some cases may even call for sealants on baby teeth to help prevent tooth decay (just like in children and adults) that can lead to early loss.
How are Sealants Applied?
First and foremost, it’s important to know that the process of applying sealants is quick and painless for the patient. Children have nothing to fear!
So how do dentists apply sealants?
- The tooth is cleaned and dried thoroughly.
- Absorbent material, such as a cotton ball, is placed around the tooth to keep it dry.
- A solution is painted on the chewing surface of the tooth, to provide a bit of abrasion to the tooth and prepare it for stronger bonding.
- The solution is rinsed off and the tooth is dried.
- The sealant is painted onto the tooth enamel to bond and harden. A special light may be used to further harden the sealant.
Sealants typically last up to 10 years, but your dentist will monitor them at each check-up to look for signs of wear or chipping. That means that when you invest in the health of your child’s teeth with sealants, you’re making an investment that will last.
Why Get Sealants?
The bottom line is: sealants will help you or your child avoid tooth decay. Brushing and flossing help remove food particles and bad bacteria from the surfaces of your teeth, but hard-to-reach back teeth often need a little bit more protection.
It’s always easier, cheaper, and less painful to prevent dental issues then to address them after they’ve become a problem. That’s why “sealing out” tooth decay before it starts can save you and your child time, worry and money in the future.
Give your Child a Head Start
Talk to your dentist today about giving your child a head start to a healthy smile. If you’re looking for a dentist in the Alpharetta area, then you should know that the team at Advanced Cosmetic and Family Dentistry use the latest technology and have high standards; and we will also provide a comfortable and calm experience for you or your child.
Contact our team today to inquire about dental sealants and schedule your next appointment.