Dental sealants are an essential tool to protect children and teenagers from tooth decay. Brushing twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush, flossing once a day, and visiting New Heights Dental & Braces every six months is essential for oral health. However, some patients who follow all the rules can still get cavities, especially in those hard to reach molars.
Why Sealants Are Needed
When brushing and flossing are not enough to prevent cavities in your child's molars, we will recommend sealants. Molars are rough and have nooks and crannies where food particles get stuck and not even the best electric toothbrush can help. This situation creates the perfect conditions for bacteria growth and plaque buildup, which results in cavities and gum disease.
Sealants are made of several materials including plastic and will match the color of your teeth. They help prevent cavities from developing and according to public data, they have shown to reduce decay in molars by 80 percent. This is a useful prevention tool we can use for our patients.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded in 2016 that school-aged children without sealants are almost three times more likely to have cavities than children who have them.
Most children don't do a thorough job of brushing and flossing, and many skip it altogether, putting them more at risk for cavities and gum disease. Alarming new data indicates that up to 70 percent of the population in the United States has some form of gum disease and it all starts with plaque buildup.
The good news is that applying sealants is quick and painless. Once the need for sealants is established, we can perform the procedure during the appointment because no anesthesia or numbing is needed. If a child needs sealants, they may need a release form with parental consent to use laughing gas to keep him or her comfortable and relaxed.
Our dentist cleans the tooth and dries it. Then he or she applies a gel-type substance that prepares the surface of the molar for the sealant and improves bonding. Following this, our dentist rinses off the gel and applies the sealant to the molar using a special laser to harden the bonding material. The bonding material is transparent so even if there is a cavity already developing in that tooth, we can monitor its progress and fill it if needed.
With proper oral hygiene habits and regular visits for professional cleanings, a sealant should last for several years and into adulthood. If we determine you or your child are a good candidate for sealants, we will ask you about your health history, if you are a new patient, and any allergies to plastic or other materials used before we start the procedure. Our dentist will explain each step of the process as he or she goes along, so you know exactly what is happening.
Getting sealants is not painful but requires the patient to keep their mouth open while the procedure is done and use the water suction tool as needed. If you have any questions about the need for sealants call New Heights Dental & Braces at (210) 828-5300.