Sealing Out Tooth Decay
Dental sealants are an important tool in the fight against childhood caries (cavities) and tooth decay. They are a less costly, more comfortable, and more aesthetically pleasing alternative to dental fillings and are regularly used to seal out harmful bacteria from the teeth’s surface.
Tooth decay is increasingly common among preschoolers. This causes pain, premature tooth loss, and childhood periodontal disease which can lead to more oral health problems later in life.
When combined with other preventative measures like a proper home care routine and biannual checkups, dental sealants can improve the mouth’s natural defenses and maintain the health and appearance of the smile.
How sealants work
Dental sealants are mostly used to protect the molars from oral bacteria and oral acids. Molars can be difficult to clean with a regular toothbrush which is why they are a site of tooth decay in a child’s mouth four out of five times. With so many hard-to-reach nooks and crannies (pits and fissures) on the chewing surfaces of molars, preventative measures like dental sealants are essential.
If the child’s pediatric dentist believes their teeth are at high risk for tooth decay, the dentist may choose to coat those teeth as well as additional teeth with sealant. The sealant works as a barrier, blocking food particles and oral bacteria from the tooth enamel.
Dental sealants do not directly enhance the health of the teeth and should not be thought of as a substitute for fluoride.
Dental sealant application
Pediatric dentists usually recommend dental sealant be applied to the primary (baby) molars when they first emerge. Depending on the habits of the child, this sealant can last for the entire life of the baby tooth or may need replacing.
Permanent molars are also often coated with sealant. They can be coated before the molar is fully grown. The health of the sealant will be monitored at the child’s biannual appointments to ensure it is still functional. A sealant that begins to lift off can cause food particles to become trapped against the tooth enamel, leading to tooth decay.
To express any questions or concerns you may have about childhood dental sealants, please contact our dentist, Dr. Shahin.