Dental sealants fill in the deep crevices and grooves of your child’s teeth. Find out why this is necessary and why dental sealants are important.
Did you know that more than 90% of people by the age of 20 have had a dental cavity? Cavities are especially common during childhood because children have not yet figured out proper dental hygiene practices. For that reason, it is almost inevitable that children will end up with a cavity or two at some point.
But is there a way to prevent cavities and tooth decay in children in the first place? The solution may have to do with dental sealants. But what are dental sealants and how do they work for cavity prevention?
Keep reading and learn more about this cost-effective preventative treatment option and if it is the right solution for your child’s teeth.
What Are Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are not much more than liquid plastic resin applied to the backs of a child’s teeth. Dental sealants have actually been around for several decades, but only now are they starting to become more popular. But why is preventing cavities such a big deal in the first place?
Cavities form as a result of certain bacteria that live in your mouth. When you eat or drink something, especially something that has sugar, the bacteria will start to consume that sugar and produce acid as a byproduct. This acid is not strong enough to cause you any pain or discomfort, but it will be strong enough to slowly strip away the layers of your tooth enamel.
This can eventually lead to tooth decay, tooth sensitivity, and cavities. Usually, people don’t even realize that they have cavities at first. Instead, they look like small white dots on the surface of your teeth that easily blend in with the rest of your tooth enamel.
As the cavities get worse, they will turn dark and eventually turn into holes. These holes will delve deeper and deeper into your tooth until they reach the more sensitive tissues inside the tooth known as the pulp. The pulp is rich in nerves and blood vessels.
When a cavity gets this deep, it can cause pain and make eating difficult. In some cases, it can even cause an infection that can spread to the rest of the teeth and even to the rest of the body. While brushing can prevent cavities from happening, it may not be enough, especially for children.
Dental sealants are able to protect against the development of most cavities. These sealants also last for a long time. However, over time, the effectiveness of the sealants will start to diminish.
It is important to prevent cavities from forming in the first place because then your child won’t have to worry about upkeep for the cavity fillings later in life.
Applying the Dental Sealants
The application of dental sealants is a relatively simple process. It is also a painless procedure so your child won’t have anything to worry about. If your child is particularly nervous about this procedure, the dentist might be able to provide some nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas.
This will relax your child and put him in a better mood for the duration of the procedure. Before sealing your child’s teeth, the dentist will first need to clean the teeth. This is important for several reasons.
If the dentist seals the teeth without cleaning them, he will be sealing all sorts of bacteria and food particles against the surface of the teeth. As you can imagine, this can cause all sorts of problems such as tooth staining, tooth decay, and cavities.
So, the dentist will first need to remove any plaque, tartar, and other debris from your child’s teeth to ensure that the teeth are clean enough to receive the sealants.
Once the teeth are clean, the dentist will need to dry them. He will do this by using a ball of cotton or another absorbent material. Then, the dentist will use an acid solution on the surface of your child’s teeth.
This acid will not hurt your child. Rather, it will function to roughen the surface of your child’s teeth. This is important because a rougher surface will make it easier for the sealant to stick in the first place.
What You Need to Know
Once the acid is finished doing its job, the dentist will rinse off the acid and again dry your child’s teeth. Finally, the dentist will apply the sealants. He will paint it directly onto your child’s tooth enamel.
As soon as the sealant hits the tooth enamel, it will start to dry, but the drying process is quite long. To speed it along, your dentist will likely use a special UV light. This will help the sealants to harden and dry at a faster rate.
Once the sealants are dry, your child will be able to go back to his normal life without any issues. Dental sealants tend to last around 10 years, but their effectiveness usually starts to decrease earlier than that due to chips and cracks. If desired, you can have the dental sealants replaced at a later time so they can be as effective as possible at preventing cavities and tooth decay.
Keep in mind that dental sealants are not a substitute for brushing and flossing.
Everything You Need to Know about Dental Sealants
Dental sealants can be quite beneficial for children and teens for a variety of reasons. Not only do they prevent cavities but they can help prevent tooth decay, too. This is ideal for children who have not yet learned how to take care of their teeth.
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