Let’s face it. Kids are prone to cavities. They don’t always eat the healthiest foods, and they often need to be reminded of proper brushing and flossing habits. One way to help prevent cavities is to have your dental professional apply dental sealants.
What are Dental Sealants?
A dental sealant is a thin coating that is painted onto the chewing surfaces of the pre-molars and molars (back teeth). It bonds to the enamel and acts as a protective shield to seal off the depressions and grooves in the tooth surfaces in order to prevent food and germs from lodging there and causing tooth decay.
Brushing and flossing are meant to remove food particles and plaque from teeth, but sometimes they cannot reach into the fissures and grooves of the back teeth to thoroughly clean then. Dental sealants protect these vulnerable surfaces.
Benefits of Dental Sealants
There are several benefits to using dental sealants. First, the sealants can last upwards of 10 years, however, your dentist will want to check them occasionally for cracks or chips.
Sealants can reduce the risk of decay in molars by up to 80%. In a study by the Centers for Disease Control, “school-aged children (ages 6-11) without sealants have almost three times more cavities than children with sealants.” And “untreated cavities can cause pain, infection, and problems eating, speaking, and learning.”
Finally, dental sealants can help eliminate or reduce the need for expensive dental treatments like fillings or crowns.
How is a Dental Sealant Applied?
It only takes a few minutes for your dental professional to apply a dental sealant. First, the teeth are cleaned and dried. Then an acid solution is applied to the chewing surfaces of the teeth to give them a slight roughness that will help the sealant to bond. That is rinsed away and the teeth are dried again. Finally, the sealant is painted onto the tooth surfaces to bond and harden, using a curing light.
Applications for Kids and Adults
Dental sealants are most often used for children because of their likelihood of developing tooth decay. They can be applied to baby teeth so they are not lost too early, but more typically, they are used during a child’s most cavity-prone years: ages six through 14. They are commonly applied just after the first molars appear (around age six), and again when second molars erupt (around age 12).
Adults can also benefit from dental sealants to protect molars that do not have decay or fillings already.
Preventive Dentistry in Reston, VA at Advanced Family Dentistry
At Advanced Family Dentistry, we like to do what we can to prevent our patients from developing dental issues like cavities or gum disease. That’s why we offer dental sealants, and may recommend them.
As a family dentist located in Reston, Virginia to serve families throughout the Washington D.C. metropolitan region, we offer a full range of dental services for all ages: from babies to seniors. We want to become your family’s dentist for life! Most insurances accepted, with flexible payment options and senior and military discounts.
Contact Advanced Family Dentistry to set your dental appointment.
Dr. Sonny Kim is a Diplomat of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists (ICOI), the highest education level for general dentists in this field.