One of the best ways to prevent tooth decay in children is to encourage good oral hygiene such as brushing twice a day and flossing daily. However, not only is this much easier said than done, but children often miss the hard to reach areas in the mouth. This means that even with good oral hygiene, there is still the unfortunate risk of developing tooth decay.
Luckily, there are preventative measures that your pediatric dentist can take to help reduce your child’s risk of tooth decay. One common way that pediatric dentists prevent tooth decay in children is through the use of dental sealants. Like their name suggests, dental sealants effectively seal the tooth surface to protect it from the bacteria that cause tooth decay. To learn more about dental sealants, here are some interesting facts:
Applied to the molars
Not only are the molars all the way in the back of the mouth, but they are highly texturized. These pits and fissures as they are called, unfortunately provide an easy hiding place for bacteria and can be easily missed during brushings. This is the main reason why molars are one of the most common locations of dental cavities. Thus, applying dental sealants to the chewing surface of molars can prevent bacteria from accumulating in these crevices and reduce the risk of tooth decay.
In addition to regular dental hygiene, dental sealants have been found to be extremely effective at preventing tooth decay. In fact, the American Dental Association notes that the use of sealants prevents 80% of dental cavities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this protection lasts for up to two years and then from years 2-4 sealants will remain only about 50% effective. While sealants can remain on the teeth for up to 9 years, it is recommended to have them regularly replaced to maintain their effectiveness.
The different variations of dental sealants are made from either ionomer cement, resin cement, or a combination of the two. What this means is that the coloring of dental sealants will vary from being clear, white, or matched exactly to the natural tooth color. As a result, they are barely noticeable once applied to the teeth.
Although some people have raised concerns over the fact that some materials used in the fabrication process of dental sealants contain BPA, the American Dental Association has performed extensive research that has found no threat. In fact, the amount of BPA produced during fabrication is such a low amount that it is estimated more BPA exposure is obtained by simply taking a breath outside.
As a final note, dental sealants are also extremely easy to apply. They are applied topically to the surface of the teeth after a cleaning and do not require any type of enamel modification. This application process is quick, painless, and low stress for your child.
As you can see, dental sealants provide an effective, invisible, safe, and easy way to protect your child’s molars from decay-causing bacteria. When combined with daily dental hygiene and regular cleanings, dental sealants can even prevent cavities from occurring. For more information on what dental sealants can do for your child, schedule an appointment with your local pediatric dentist today.
Dr. Leyster is a board-certified pediatric dental specialist. He is recognized as a Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry. He has served as faculty as an Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California School of Dentistry in the Division of Public Health and Pediatric Dentistry. Dr. Leyster belongs to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, American Board of Pediatric Dentistry, California Society of Pediatric Dentistry, California Dental Association, Pacific Northwest Dental Association, and the American Dental Association.