Benefits of Dental Sealants
The benefits of sealants are particularly great for young children and teenagers.
Sealants protect the vulnerable cavity prone areas in back teeth that can be hard (especially for kids) to brush or floss. The rigid surface area of back molars is particularly susceptible to germs and food build up as it is hard for toothbrush bristles to reach these spots. Essentially, dental sealants help protect all the pits and grooves (or nooks and crannies) from plaque and food buildup.
By stopping decay, sealants for children can prevent the need for fillings or more invasive dental procedures down the road. In fact, some studies show that school-age children without sealants have up to three times more cavities than children with sealants. The simple, painless procedure can keep your child smiling for years to come!
Dental Sealants Procedure
Applying dental sealants is a quick and painless procedure that can be done as part of a regular dental checkup. Since it basically involves cleaning, drying and painting the tooth with the sealant, most children do not even notice the procedure is being performed. The steps involved include:
- Cleaning and drying each tooth thoroughly.
- Applying an acid solution to the chewing surface of each tooth to create a rough surface for sealants to adhere to.
- Rinsing and drying each tooth thoroughly.
- Painting the sealant onto the tooth enamel (it hardens in a few seconds).
- If needed, using a curing light to help sealant bond directly to the tooth.
The sealant procedure typically takes between 10 and 15 minutes, depending on how many teeth are being sealed.
Sealants on Baby Teeth
Our pediatric dentist may recommend dental sealants for baby teeth when the teeth are particularly prone to decay. Even though these baby teeth eventually fall out, they do play an important role in keeping the proper spacing in the mouth for permanent teeth. Sealants ensure baby teeth stay healthy for as long as possible, and do not prematurely fall out before the permanent teeth are ready to grow in.
Sealants vs Fillings
Dental sealants are a preventative procedure that protects the surface of healthy molars and premolars from tooth decay and cavities.
Dental fillings on the other hand are a restorative procedure that return teeth back to their original condition in terms of shape and function. They can also stop any pain that may be caused by the decay. A filling can be a more invasive procedure that “fills in” the decayed tooth and stops additional decay from occurring.
Following the dental sealant procedure your child can eat right away and return back to their normal routines. At each following dental appointment our children’s dentist will monitor for any possible chipping or leakage. Hard, sticky, and chewy foods such as ice, gum, gummies) may contribute to sealant failure and are not recommended for children with sealants. Parents should help their children maintain a healthy oral care routine that includes proper teeth brushing and flossing techniques.
How Long Do Dental Sealants Last?
When properly applied, dental sealants can last up to ten years under normal wear and tear. At each regular dental check-up our pediatric dentist will assess the sealants and determine whether it is necessary to replace or repair the sealant due to chips or wear.
Public Health Ontario offers more information on the Effectiveness of Dental Sealants.