Oral Care Tips for Parents

Sealants and the Prevention of Dental Decay

Sealants are a great prevention tool that can really reduce your child’s risk for decay. With that being said, what are sealants?

The sealant is a tool that the pediatric dentist uses to prevent decay. The sealant is made of a liquid resin material that can be flowed into the pits and grooves of back teeth. This resin material (sealant) is often cured with a special light and it turns into a hard protective solid.

5 things you need to know about dental sealants

  1. How do sealants work?
  2. How long do sealants last?
  3. How much do they cost?
  4. What teeth should be sealed?
  5. If my child has sealants is brushing and flossing still important?

How do sealants work?

Even if your child brushes and flosses carefully it is sometimes difficult or impossible to clean the tiny grooves and pits on certain teeth. Food and bacteria build up in these crevices placing your child in danger of tooth decay. Sealants seal out food and plaque and reduce your child’s risk for decay. Research says that sealants may reduce decay rate from 60 to 80 percent on permanent first molars.

How long do sealants last?

Sealants can last for several years if properly cared for. If your child has good oral hygiene and avoids biting on hard objects, sealants will last longer. Some children may need to have sealants replaced more often if they grind their teeth or have habits that cause sealants to wear more quickly. Your pediatric dentist will check the sealants during regular dental visits and will recommend reapplication or repair when necessary.

What is the treatment like?

The application of a sealant is quick and usually comfortable. It does not require “numbing” and usually only takes one appointment. The tooth is first cleaned. It is then conditioned (etched) and dried. The sealant is then flowed onto the grooves of the tooth and allowed to harden or is hardened with a special light. Once cured your child can eat and carry on with normal activities.

How much do sealants cost?

The treatment is very affordable, especially in view of the valuable decay protection sealants provide. Most dental insurance companies cover the cost for sealants. Some companies however, have specific tooth and age limitations. Call your insurance company for information or talk with us about the exact cost of sealants.

Which teeth should be sealed?

The natural flow of saliva usually keeps the smooth surfaces of teeth clean, but it does not always wash out the grooves and fissures. The molars are the teeth that usually need sealants the most, especially the permanent six and twelve year molars. Premolars and primary molars can also benefit from sealants. Any tooth however, with grooves or pits may benefit from the protection of sealants. Talk with your pediatric dentist for more information.

If my child has sealants are brushing and flossing still important?

Brushing and flossing are still very important. Sealants are one step in the process to keep your child cavity free. Brushing, flossing, balanced diet and regular dental visits are still essential to a bright healthy smile.

In summary, sealants are a very important part in the prevention of dental disease. If you have not had your child’s teeth sealed please consider it. If you want more information about dental sealants please call Anchorage Pediatric Dentistry at 907-562-1003.

Dr. Easte Warnick DDS

Dr. Easte Warnick received a degree in Geology from the University of Nevada Las Vegas in 2001. After working as a geologist for Los Alamos National Laboratory and Bechtel SAIC, she returned to school and completed dental training at the University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in 2012.

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