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What are Dental Sealants and How Can They Protect My Child’s Teeth?

By October 22, 2019August 2nd, 2022Blog

Preventative dentistry really is the best dentistry. By intercepting problems before they even start, you can avoid extensive, costly dental treatment for kids. One of the easiest and most effective ways to do that is with protective dental sealants. As a Naperville pediatric dentist, we recommend dental sealants for most of our patients once their first permanent molars come in because they keep their teeth strong and healthy.

What are Cavities?

Before we move on to what dental sealants are and how they protect kids’ teeth, first let’s go over what they protect against: cavities. Dental caries, the fancy, technical term for cavities, are basically holes in the teeth. If cavities are not treated, they get bigger and can be painful and lead to infection or, eventually, even tooth loss. The bacteria in the mouth feeds on the sugars and starches we eat and releases acids. This bacteria, the acids, food debris and spit combine together and form plaque, a sticky film that clings to the teeth. If not removed completely with brushing and flossing, the plaque acids then eat away at the tooth’s enamel, causing cavities. Since the molars and premolars have grooves in them, it can be hard to brush away the plaque and food, which is why these teeth are especially susceptible to cavities.

What are Dental Sealants?

Dental sealants for kids are kind of like force fields for their teeth. Protective dental sealants are a BPA-free, thin coating that’s painted on to the chewing surfaces of the molars and premolars. Once the sealants are on the teeth, they act as a protective shield against the food debris, bacteria, plaque and acids we just talked about. Since the bad stuff can no longer settle in the pits and grooves of your child’s teeth, the sealants help prevent cavities.

When Should Kids Get Dental Sealants?

It’s usually recommended that dental sealants for kids be applied shortly after their first permanent molars erupt, between the ages of six and seven, and again when their second permanent molars come in, between 12 and 13 years old. This also happens to be when kids are most cavity prone. After all, children do tend to like sweets and sometimes struggle with brushing and flossing. While dental sealants for adults can be a possibility if you don’t have any decay or fillings in your molars, it is a more common preventative treatment for children and teens.

How Long Do Dental Sealants Last?

Dental sealants can protect the teeth for up to 10 years with proper care! However, sealants do occasionally fall out. At your child’s dental exams, we’ll check their sealants to make sure they’re still in place and going strong. If a sealant is missing, we can quickly reapply it to keep your child’s tooth cavity-free. To help sealants last as long as possible, have kids avoid hard candy, chewing on ice or lollipops, or things that will easily chip away at the seal.

How Does the Dental Sealant Procedure Work?

The dental sealants procedure is fast and painless. At Innovative Pediatric Dentistry, we use DryShield, an innovative, comfy, all-in-one device that has a child-sized mouthpiece and bite block, as well as suction, a tongue shield and oral pathway protector. We use this instead of the standard, uncomfortable rubber dental dams to ensure the process is as stress-free and pleasant as possible for kiddos. After we clean your little one’s teeth to make sure there are no pieces of food or bacteria on them, they’ll bite on the DryShield mouthpiece. Then, we’ll dry their teeth and paint on a solution that helps the sealant stick. We clean and dry the teeth again before brushing on the sealants. When the sealants are dry, your child can head off to our stash of prizes. The dental sealant process only takes a few minutes from start to finish.

How Effective are Dental Sealants for Kids?

Protective dental sealants for kids are extremely effective. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dental sealants protect against 80% of cavities for two years and then 50% of cavities for as long as four years. Considering tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children ages six to 11 and teens ages 12 to 19, protective dental sealants are an important part of any child’s preventative dental care. Combine them with fluoride treatments, regular dental checkups and cleanings, and an awesome homecare routine and your child can drastically reduce their risk of tooth decay. While, yes, a cavity can be treated, a filling is more expensive when compared to the dental sealants cost. Plus, restorative treatments are more time consuming and invasive. A tooth without a cavity is a lot stronger and healthier.

If you’re interested in Naperville dental sealants, now’s the time to protect your child’s pearly whites and take advantage of our October promotion. Through October 31, we’re offering four protective dental sealants for kids for the price of three! Contact our Naperville pediatric dental office to schedule a visit at (630) 848-PEDO.