For parents, a child’s smile is valuable and must be protected at all costs. Unfortunately, sometimes this is easier said than done. While your kids have (hopefully) learned the importance of brushing from a young age, some teeth are easier to keep clean than others. The molars in the back of your child’s mouth are the most difficult to brush well – and consequently are the most vulnerable to cavities. Is there another way to protect them? Learn more about dental sealants and why your pediatric dentist in Helena might recommend them for your child.
What Are Sealants?
A sealant is a plastic-based gel placed on the teeth and hardened with a special light. It acts as a barrier between the natural tooth and the bacteria that cause decay.
How Do Sealants Protect My Child’s Teeth?
Most cavities in children (roughly 88%) occur in the molars. This is partially due to the grooves in these teeth providing a place for food particles and bacteria to hide, making them harder to clean effectively. Their location doesn’t help either; children in particular have difficulty effectively brushing the hard-to-reach teeth in the back of their mouths.
With dental sealants, the back teeth enjoy an additional layer of defense against the acids produced by bacteria that can cause cavities. According to the ADA, sealants reduce the risk of decay in molars by almost 80%.
What Other Benefits Do Sealants Have?
Dental sealants can last for 5 to 10 years, meaning they can provide protection while your children grow and develop better brushing techniques. It’s a quick, painless procedure that does not affect the structure of the tooth, and the gel can be made to match the color of the tooth and is thus not usually noticeable.
When Should Sealants Be Used?
Sealants are especially recommended around ages 6 and 12, when the first and second permanent molars erupt. They can also be used on teeth in the early stages of decay in order to prevent further damage. While sealants are typically used for children, adults can benefit as well.
Even with sealants, however, it’s important to continue practicing good oral hygiene habits at home while continuing to see the dentist at least twice a year. If you have any doubts about your child’s daily oral care, speak with your dentist about any additional steps you might want to take. Remember, keeping your child smiling for the future sometimes requires extra effort.
About the Author
At Kalmor Dental, Dr. Matthew Coplin has been providing children in Helena with quality, individualized care since 2004. He provides several preventive services for kids such as dental sealants and fluoride treatments; he also offers sedation dentistry for children who have dental anxieties. To set up an appointment for your child, visit his website or call (406) 442-1377.