Can Children Get Dental Sealants?
Children with deep pits and grooves on their back teeth (molars) can benefit from dental sealants. Even with good oral hygiene, it is not always easy to clean the grooves of the back teeth. This can allow food debris and bacteria to hide in those areas, causing plaque and, ultimately, cavities. Dental sealants are protective coatings used for the chewing surfaces of the molars to prevent tooth decay.
The recommendation for dental sealants
Dentists generally recommend dental sealants for the first and second permanent molars. The first permanent molars usually erupt when the child is around age six. The second set of permanent molars erupts around age twelve. Dental sealants are not always applied to baby teeth. However, the family dentist can suggest sealing these molars if they have deep grooves and are prone to tooth decay.
When sugar remnants remain on the teeth, they serve as food for the harmful bacteria in the mouth, which produces acidic plaque. Plaques dissolve the minerals on the enamel (demineralization). The process eventually weakens the tooth, causing tooth decay and cavities. When dental sealants are applied to the teeth, it serves as a barrier against these harmful acids and prevents the formation of tooth cavities.
What to expect with dental sealants for children
The process of applying dental sealants to a child’s teeth is easy and painless. The family dentist will first clean the teeth thoroughly to remove all traces of food particles and germs from the surface of the teeth. Afterward, they will apply an etching gel to roughen the chewing surface for a few seconds before rinsing it off. After drying the tooth, the dentist will apply a thin layer of the liquid dental sealant material and shine a special light on the tooth to harden it. Sealing a tooth only takes a few minutes.
Dental sealants are usually transparent, white, or somewhat tinted in color and are not noticeable when the child opens their mouth. The child’s bite may feel slightly different after placing the sealants, depending on the type of material used and that is to be expected. The bite will become normal after a few days. The child can start eating or drinking immediately after the procedure. Sealants have no special precaution and can last up to five or ten years. However, patients can undergo touchup treatment during routine appointments if the dental sealant becomes worn.
Although dental sealants do not offer foolproof protection against cavities, they can protect the teeth for several years if properly maintained. When patients brush, floss and visit their dentist regularly, they can be assured of less risk of developing a cavity.
Protecting children's teeth is crucial. Getting dental sealants for children when they are still young has immense benefits, especially if the child is prone to dental caries. Considering how common tooth cavities are, family dentists highly recommend the procedure to give children a healthy and strong smile.
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