You might think you are doing all you can to help protect your child’s teeth from cavities, but does your child have sealants? School age children without sealants are almost three times more likely to have cavities than those with sealants, says a report from the Centers for Disease Control sited in a recent ADA online article entitled, “Sealants.” This is a big problem considering that the CDC is also sited for their finding that states only 43% of children ages 6-11 actually have sealants. So what are sealants and why are they so important to the prevention of cavities?
What are Sealants?
Sealants are a thin, protective coating that is placed on the chewing surfaces of teeth (usually molars). A 2009 ADA Quick Reference on Sealants further explains that sealants are resin bonding that seals the pits and grooves of the teeth to act as a barrier to protect enamel from plaque and acids that can cause cavities.
When are Sealants Applied?
It is best to apply sealants as soon as a child’s permanent molars come through their gums, says the ADA online article “5 Questions to Ask at Your Child’s Back-to-School Dental Visit.” This usually occurs around age 6, and then again around age 12. The 2009 ADA Quick Reference on Sealants adds that sealants usually last for years before they need to be reapplied. In addition, they are not only meant for children. Some adults may also be at risk for this type of decay and thus could also benefit from sealants.
How are Sealants Applied?
The above 2009 ADA Quick Reference on Sealants explains the process of sealant application, which usually only takes a few minutes per tooth.
- The teeth to be sealed are cleaned.
- These teeth are then pre-treated with a conditioner that helps the sealant stick to the tooth.
- The sealant is “painted” onto the enamel so that it bonds to the tooth and hardens.
- Sometimes a special light is used to help the sealant to harden.
The ADA online article, “Sealants,” summarizes by saying the application of sealants is a “quick and painless process.”
Sealants are proven to provide significant protection from cavities. If your school-aged child does not have sealants, it is important that you talk to your dentist about the possibility of sealants for them. These conversations happen regularly here at Boulevard Dental, where cavity prevention in children is a priority!
“Sealants” – http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/s/sealants
“5 Questions to Ask at Your Child’s Back-to-School Dental Visit.” – http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/babies-and-kids/questions-for-school-dental-exam
“Sealants: Quick Reference.” (2009). American Dental Association.