Protect your child's teeth through the cavity-prone years, ages 6 to 14, when back teeth are first susceptible to decay.
Sealants provide extra protection on children’s teeth until they learn how to do a better job of brushing and flossing.
Sealants act as barriers, protecting the teeth against decay-causing bacteria. These treatments are usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (premolars and molars) where decay occurs most often.
The application of dental sealants is a simple, painless procedure that’s also relatively inexpensive when compared to the costs of filling a cavity.
What are dental sealants?
Sealants are made of a white or clear acrylic material. They help shield bacteria which causes decay on the surfaces of the back teeth.
How can sealants prevent decay?
The sealant material bonds to the chewing surface of the back teeth, forming a protective barrier covering the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the molars.
Why are sealants necessary?
Because the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) on the back teeth are difficult to keep clean. The toothbrush bristles cannot reach deep into them. These depressions and grooves are snug places for food and plaque to hide. By coating the grooves with a thick covering of sealant material, plaque and food is kept out, decreasing the chances of decay.
Which teeth are suitable for sealants?
First and second molars are most likely to benefit from sealant applications. In children, it is best to seal these molars right after they have erupted, catching them well before decay sets in. First molars generally appear around six years of age, and second molars around 12 years of age. Children between the ages of six and 14 benefit the most from sealants.
How are sealants applied?
During an examination, a dentist will determine which teeth can and should be sealed. The application of sealants is very simple and is completely painless. First, the teeth are cleaned. Then, in preparation for the sealant material, the teeth are dabbed with a very mild solution similar in strength to vinegar or lemon juice. This will roughen the tooth surface slightly so that the sealant will bond properly to the tooth. After the tooth has been prepared, the acrylic sealant material is painted onto the tooth. It will flow into the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the tooth, and it hardens in about 60 seconds, after which time bacteria can no longer reach the pits and grooves of the teeth.
Have sealants been thoroughly tested?
Yes. Thousands of children around the world have had their teeth sealed in clinical studies, proving sealants to be effective, inexpensive, easy to apply, and nontoxic.
How long will dental sealants last?
A sealant application generally lasts for five years, and in many cases, even longer. Be sure to check your children’s teeth regularly, and reapply the sealants when they appear to have worn off.