From an early age, we stress with our children the need to be good brushers and, eventually, flossers. There’s no better way to avoid cavities and the problems that come along with them than brushing and flossing regularly. As parents, we do our best to supervise our children’s dental health habits, especially when they’re little. Sealants play an important role in the prevention of decay.
But brushing isn’t magic and sometimes we don’t get all the food out of every little crevice in our teeth – especially in the molars – and that’s how bacteria can infect these areas. And while brushing and flossing are tools that will carry us through adulthood, protecting our teeth as we grow, pediatric dentists often suggest another option that can be used as a sort of safety net when brushing doesn’t get the job done.
That option is to apply a “sealant” to the teeth, which can keep cavities from forming.
What is a sealant?
Sealant is a thin coating that’s applied to the chewing surface of the back teeth. This protective coating is generally made from resin or other dental materials and it not only stops cavities from forming but research shows that it can also stop early decay in its tracks when applied after some decay is already present.
Surveys conducted by the American Dental Association have concluded that the use of sealants reduce the risk of decay by about 80 percent yet, according to the CDC, less than half of all children who could benefit from this procedure have received it.
How do sealants work?
Once a sealant is applied to a child’s molars, food particles that cause bacteria are unable to settle in the nooks and crannies of those bumpy back teeth. As a result, the formation of bacterial colonies is avoided and cavities won’t form. Many dentists liken sealant to a raincoat that keeps you from getting wet during a rainstorm.
It’s all about protection!
Applying sealant is super easy and painless as well! First your pediatric dentist cleans and dries your teeth. Then he or she applies an acidic gel that “roughs up” the teeth so that the sealant will better adhere to the molars. That gel is then rinsed off, the tooth/teeth are dried again, and the sealant is applied. After the application, a special blue light is used to harden the sealant.
And that’s really all it takes to add this extra layer of protection for your child! The procedure is done during a pre-scheduled appointment and there’s no preparation needed.
But is it safe for my child?
It is rare for any adverse effects to occur with the use of dental sealants. Unless your child has a particular allergy to one of the ingredients in the sealant, it should be quite safe. Though sealants may contain a small amount of BPA, the quantity is so miniscule that the procedure remains perfectly safe.
To find out whether treatment with a sealant is right for your child, talk to one of our pediatric dentists at Anchorage Pediatric Dentistry at (907)562-1003 for more information or to set up an appointment today!