Dental sealants play an important role in children’s dental health. There is some confusion, however, about exactly what they are. Some parents don’t realize that there are critical differences between sealants and fillings. Let’s clarify the matter.
Dental sealants and dental fillings are used on teeth but have different applications. Dental fillings are applied to repair a tooth after it starts decaying, whereas tooth sealants are used to prevent tooth decay before it happens. Dental fillings are used to fill the holes caused by tooth decay. Fillings restore the tooth to its original appearance and function.
The molars have pits and grooves that can trap food and bacteria. This can lead to decay and cavities. Dental sealant is a plastic film that is used to seal the natural cracks and pits in the molars.
The rear teeth, called molars, are where tooth decay occurs the most. A tooth sealant is a protective coating applied to the surface of your child’s molars (back teeth).This sealant protects your child’s molars and helps prevent cavities from forming. Placement of dental sealants is easy and painless. Sealant is made from a type of dental material.
Do Dental Sealants Really Help Prevent Cavities?
The application of tooth sealants is painless, quick, and an easy way to avoid cavities. Dental sealants can help prevent cavities, if applied correctly by a professional dentist. Sealants remain 80% effective against cavities for two years, and continue to offer protection for years. Sealants should be applied to young teenagers whose permanent teeth have fully grown in.
How is Dental Sealant Applied?
Your child’s dentist or hygienist will:
- Clean and dry each tooth, one at a time
- Paint a solution on teeth that roughens the surface of the tooth so the sealant will bond tightly
- Rinse and dry the teeth again
- Paint liquid sealant on each tooth
- An ultraviolet light is used to harden the sealant
Will Sealants Last Until My Child Graduates From College?
Typically sealants can last up to ten years. It is critical that sealants are inspected during routine pediatric dental exams. This will ensure that they haven’t worn down or chipped. If your pediatric dentist discovers a chip or problem, he/she can apply more sealant if required.
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