As a parent, you want to give your child the best start in life, including their dental health. One of the most effective ways to prevent tooth decay in children is through the use of dental sealants. Dental sealants are thin, plastic coatings that are applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, where decay most often occurs. In this article, Dentist Wicker Park will explore what dental sealants are, how they work, and their benefits for children’s dental health.
What are Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are a protective coating that is applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, or molars. They are made of a plastic material that bonds to the tooth’s surface, creating a barrier that prevents food and bacteria from getting trapped in the tiny grooves and pits of the molars. This makes it easier for children to keep their teeth clean and reduces the risk of tooth decay.
How do Dental Sealants Work?
Dental sealants work by creating a physical barrier between the tooth’s surface and harmful bacteria and food particles. When a child chews, the biting surface of the tooth can trap food and bacteria in its pits and grooves. Over time, this can lead to decay and cavities. Dental sealants fill in these pits and grooves, creating a smooth surface that is easier to clean with a toothbrush.
When Should Children Get Dental Sealants?
Children should get dental sealants as soon as their adult molars come in, which usually happens around the age of six. However, children with deep grooves or pits in their baby teeth may benefit from sealants on those teeth as well. It is best to talk to your child’s dentist about whether they would benefit from dental sealants.
How are Dental Sealants Applied?
Applying dental sealants is a quick and painless process. First, the dentist will clean the tooth’s surface and dry it thoroughly. They will then apply an acidic gel to the tooth’s surface, which roughens it slightly. This allows the sealant to bond more effectively to the tooth. The dentist will then rinse the tooth and dry it again before applying the sealant. The sealant is then cured with a special light, which hardens it and helps it bond to the tooth’s surface.
What are the Benefits of Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants have several benefits for children’s dental health. They can:
- Prevent tooth decay: Dental sealants create a physical barrier that makes it harder for food and bacteria to get trapped in the pits and grooves of the molars, reducing the risk of decay and cavities.
- Save money: Preventing tooth decay can save parents money on dental treatments down the line.
- Save time: Preventing tooth decay means fewer trips to the dentist for fillings and other treatments.
- Improve oral health: By preventing decay, dental sealants can help children maintain good oral health and reduce the risk of gum disease.
How long do dental sealants last?
Dental sealants can last for several years, typically around five to ten years. However, this can vary based on the individual child’s oral hygiene habits and the wear and tear on the sealants. It is important to have the sealants checked regularly during dental check-ups to ensure they are still intact and effective. If a sealant becomes chipped or worn down, it may need to be replaced to continue providing protection against tooth decay.
Do dental sealants have any side effects?
Dental sealants are generally considered safe and do not have any significant side effects. However, some children may experience a mild allergic reaction to the materials used in the sealant, although this is rare. Additionally, if the sealant is not properly applied or if there is moisture on the tooth at the time of application, it may not bond properly and could potentially trap bacteria against the tooth, leading to decay. This is why it is important to have the sealants applied by a qualified dental professional in a clean and dry environment.
Are dental sealants covered by insurance?
Many dental insurance plans do cover the cost of dental sealants for children. However, it is important to check with your specific insurance provider to determine their coverage policies. Some plans may have age restrictions or limit the number of teeth that can be sealed, so it is important to verify what is covered before scheduling the procedure. If your insurance does not cover sealants, some dental offices may offer payment plans or discounts to make the treatment more affordable.
What are the alternatives to dental sealants?
There are several alternatives to dental sealants that can help prevent tooth decay in children. One alternative is fluoride treatment, which involves applying a fluoride varnish to the teeth to help strengthen the enamel and prevent cavities. Another alternative is good oral hygiene practices, such as brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, and eating a healthy diet low in sugary and acidic foods and drinks. However, even with these alternatives, dental sealants are still considered one of the most effective ways to prevent tooth decay in children, especially for the back teeth where it can be difficult to clean thoroughly.
Dental sealants are a safe and effective way to prevent tooth decay in children’s teeth, particularly in the molars and premolars. They can last for several years and are usually covered by dental insurance. While there are alternative methods for preventing tooth decay, such as fluoride treatment and good oral hygiene practices, dental sealants remain one of the most effective preventive measures available. As with any dental procedure, it is important to have the sealants applied by a qualified Urban Smiles Chicago dental professional and to have them checked regularly to ensure they are still intact and effective. By taking these steps, parents and caregivers can help ensure the long-term dental health of their children.