If your child has dental caries, frequent cavities, or is prone to tooth decay, your dentist may recommend dental sealants. Wondering what they are and whether or not they’re necessary? Here are answers to your questions about dental sealants for children.
What Are Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are a very thin layer of safe plastic. The dentist essentially paints the plastic onto your child’s tooth, and it settles into the grooves of the tooth. This creates a protective layer on the chewing surfaces of your child’s teeth.
What Are the Benefits of Dental Sealants?
Sealants help prevent food debris from settling directly on the enamel. Over time, food and debris turns into plaque, and that interacts with bacteria in the mouth to break down tooth enamel. As the enamel breaks down, the decay spreads inside the tooth, and that’s how cavities are formed. Dental sealants interrupt this process by protecting the enamel of the teeth.
Why Do Children Need Dental Sealants?
Children tend to have trouble brushing and flossing, and that’s why sealants are perfect for them. Some children have trouble keeping focused while brushing, and they may miss their back teeth. Others, especially children with ADHD or sensory issues, may be resistant to brushing, and this can be extremely hard for some parents to navigate. Dental sealants help protect kids’ teeth from these issues.
Do Dental Sealants Really Work?
According to the American Dental Association, dental sealants offer both immediate and long term protection. In fact, when children’s dentists put dental sealants on six year molars, the sealants immediately reduce the risk of cavities by 80 percent, and over the next four years, they can reduce cavities by 60 percent.
As indicated above, dental sealants work well on the six year molars. These are the first adult teeth that kids get. They tend to erupt around age six, and your child is going to need those molars for the rest of their life. Taking care of something that important when you’re only six can be hard, but dental sealants can help.
How Long Do Dental Sealants Last?
In most cases, dental sealants can last up to 10 years. Ideally, your child should get their dental sealants checked by their dentist at their annual appointment. If the sealant has worn down or gotten a crack, the decay can slip under it. Your children’s dentist can let you know if your child needs new sealants at your appointment.
Should All Kids Get Dental Sealants?
The American Dental Association recommends that all children get sealants when their adult teeth erupt. However, very few children actually get sealants. According to some estimates only 20 percent of children below the poverty line and 40 percent of children from middle or upper income homes get sealants.
If your dentist has not offered you sealants, you may want to ask about them. They can help to safeguard your child’s oral health.
Ready to learn more about dental sealants? Want to make an appointment for a general check up or to talk about sealants. Then, contact us at Dentistry for Children and Teens to schedule an appointment today.