The surfaces of our teeth are not smooth. They have bumps and holes where bits of food can get caught and accumulate, particularly in the back teeth. The sticky film of bacteria that is already on the teeth will attack the food and create acids. These acids can destroy the tooth's enamel, which leads to tooth decay.
Although anyone can develop tooth decay on any teeth at any age, almost all of the decay in children's teeth occurs on the surfaces of their back teeth. Since it can be difficult getting children to brush at all, let alone pay close attention to certain areas of their mouth, some dentists may recommend protecting their teeth with dental sealants. In some cases, it may also be helpful for adults to have dental sealants applied to their teeth.
A dental sealant is a plastic coating that is used to cover and seal the chewing surfaces in your child's mouth, usually on the back teeth. The sealant then acts as a barrier, protecting your child's teeth from both bacteria and acid. For children the sealants can be applied as soon as their teeth start coming through their gums. The first molars usually appear around the age of six.
Find a pedodontist or a family dentist who can advise you on whether dental sealants are a good choice for your child. If you decide to have them applied the dentist will thoroughly clean the teeth which are to be sealed. A solution is then applied that prepares the surface of the teeth so the sealant can be applied. The dentist paints the sealant onto the enamel of your child's teeth, where it bonds to the tooth surface and hardens. Your child's tooth will be protected for as long as the sealant lasts, usually about five to ten years. Your dentist will examine the dental sealant during routine appointments to make sure it is still intact. You should still try to protect all of your child's teeth by reducing the amount of soda and sugar in their diets but dental sealants can help provide some protection. Your child will still need to engage in daily oral hygiene habits such as brushing and flossing to insure strong teeth and healthy gums.
ChooseYourDentist.com is your go-to source for dental information and dental education. If you are interested in dental sealants, use our dental profiles to help find a pedodontist or family dentist who can help because ChooseYourDentist.com is "where patients and dentists meet."