A pediatric dentist’s number one job is to care for children’s teeth from birth through to adolescence. That, of course, includes treating oral health issues when they arise — but more importantly, pediatric dentistry is about preventing problems before they start in the first place.
At Kids Mile High, dental sealants are one of our favorite ways to protect your child’s teeth from decay. Never heard of dental sealants? Don’t worry! As your Englewood, Thornton and Cenral Park pediatric dentists, we’re here to answer all of your questions. Read on to learn more about dental sealants for kids and how they can improve your child’s lifelong oral health.
What Are Dental Sealants?
First things first: before you can decide whether dental sealants are right for your child, you’re probably wondering what exactly they are and what they do. Dental sealants are basically like protective armor for your child’s teeth. Made from a thin, BPA-free plastic, dental sealants are painted onto the chewing surfaces of the teeth (usually the premolars and molars) to create a barrier over the enamel of each tooth. Dental sealants block out all the bad stuff, like bacteria, plaque, acids and food particles, to keep your child’s teeth as healthy as can be.
You might be thinking, “Isn’t that what brushing and flossing is for?” Well, you’re right. But brushing and flossing alone often isn’t enough to clean hard-to-reach nooks and crannies in your child’s back teeth. Instead of washing away harmful bacteria or plaque after the fact, dental sealants prevent the nasties from getting in there in the first place. Preventive dental care for the win!
When Should My Child Get Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are most effective on the big chompers, officially known as the molars and premolars. That’s because they have rough, uneven surfaces which are perfect places for bacteria and food debris to hide. So it makes sense that dental sealants for kids should be applied when their molars come in. This will happen twice in your child’s life: their first molars will typically erupt between the ages of six and seven, and their permanent molars will come in around age 12 or 13. It’s best to apply dental sealants for kids shortly after their molars arrive to prevent as much decay as possible.
Dental sealants may also be effective for adults, but only for those who don’t already have decay or fillings. Since dental sealants are a preventive measure against decay, their purpose is to block the bad stuff before it takes hold on your teeth, not afterwards. That’s why children are the best candidates for dental sealants.
How Are Dental Sealants Applied?
So what exactly can you and your child expect from the dental sealant process? It’s a super simple, pain-free procedure! It only takes a few minutes to apply the sealant to each tooth, so your kids will be back doing the things they love in no time. Here’s how it works:
- First, your pediatric dentist will thoroughly clean and dry off the teeth to be treated.
- Then, we’ll apply a solution to the chewing surfaces of the teeth which will help the sealant stick.
- Next, the teeth are once again rinsed and dried.
- Finally, we’ll paint the sealant onto your child’s enamel. Once it hardens, you’re free to go on your way!
How Long Do Dental Sealants for Kids Last?
When cared for properly, dental sealants have a lifespan of three to 10 years. That’s up to a whole decade of decay and cavity prevention! That said, things do happen and your child’s dental sealants may become loose. At each appointment, we’ll check on the condition of the sealants to make sure they’re still doing their job and protecting your child’s teeth.
Since the process of applying dental sealant is so quick and easy, we can fix up any missing sealants on the spot. As for what you can do at home to increase the lifespan of dental sealants, make sure your kids avoid hard candies, lollipops, or other hard treats that can chip away at their sealant.
Do Dental Sealants Actually Work?
In a word, yes! They’re one of the simplest, most effective ways to prevent tooth decay in kids. The CDC reports that dental sealants protect against 80% of cavities in the first two years, and 50% of cavities for up to four years. It’s also been shown that school-age children without dental sealants have nearly three times as many cavities than children with sealants.
At Kids Mile High, we believe it’s our duty to protect your children’s mouths — and therefore, they’re overall health — from harm. Dental sealants are a quick, painless, cost-effective way to improve your child’s lifelong oral health. Call your Central Park, Englewood and Thornton pediatric dentist today to find out more.