Dental sealants can be a powerful defense against decay and help patients achieve healthier smiles when combined with a regular hygiene routine — but are they only for adult teeth, or can dental sealants for kids be just as beneficial? Let’s talk about what dental sealants do, how they can help kids in the long term, and when’s the best time for your kids to get started with sealants.
What Are Dental Sealants for Kids?
Dental sealants are a tool used by dentists to prevent cavities. What they do is create a barrier over the tooth to keep harmful bacteria and particles at bay, protecting the tooth from their destructive forces. Sealants are particularly used for molars, which have grooves, nooks, and crannies where food pieces and plaque can hide — places where even thorough brushing can’t effectively reach.
Dental sealants for kids are especially beneficial because they can significantly reduce a child’s chance of getting a cavity. Even with dental sealants, brushing and flossing are required, but the simple procedure can help your child’s teeth stay cleaner and healthier, meaning fewer unpleasant trips to the dentist in the future.
When Should Kids Get Dental Sealants?
A child’s first molars usually appear at age 6, and continue coming in until the child is about 12 years. As soon as the molars emerge, it’s a good idea to have dental sealant applied. It starts working to prevent tooth decay and cavities right away — and immediately starts saving you the time and cost of future appointments to correct dental problems.
What’s the Procedure for Dental Sealants for Kids?
The procedure to apply dental sealants for kids is simple and painless. Your child’s dentist will apply a plastic resin by painting it over the chewing surface of the molar, filling the grooves and smoothing over crevices to keep out bacteria. Then, a special blue light is used to cure the material so it hardens.
The surface of the tooth may feel a little strange at first, but it will soon wear to a normal pattern. Eventually, due to chewing and daily wear, the dental sealants will need to be reapplied in order to continue being effective. The dentist will check the condition of the sealants when your child comes in for regular dental checkups.
Benefits of Dental Sealants for Kids
Dental sealants are great for everyone, but especially for kids, dental sealants have many benefits, including improving the results of daily hygiene, preventing tooth decay and cavities, and reducing the likelihood of more uncomfortable visits to the dentist down the road.
Kids are still learning the importance of thorough dental hygiene and their young teeth are especially susceptible to bacteria and tooth decay. A CDC report on the effectiveness of dental sealants for kids states they can prevent up to 80 percent of cavities the first two years, then 50 percent the next four. It also found that kids with dental sealants experience less tooth decay and fewer cavities than kids in their same age group who don’t have sealants.
The long term benefits of sealants are fewer visits to the dentist and greater dental health. The resin used to seal the teeth is clear, so the material isn’t noticeable, and your child’s dentist can still monitor the tooth to check for stains and decay, verify the sealant is still working, and reapply the sealant if it is worn away.
Risks With Dental Sealants for Kids
Dental sealants for kids have been proven to be a safe and effective preventative treatment. One worry parents often bring up is the presence of bisphenol A (BPA) in the material used to seal the teeth. It’s true — dental sealants contain a very small amount of the chemical BPA. However, there not only have been no reported adverse reactions to dental sealants, but the amount of BPA present in the plastic resin is no more than a person would come into contact with in normal daily life when touching receipts, applying cosmetics, or interacting with other plastics.
Without sealants, procedures to repair tooth decay use more chemicals than are present in sealant material. Extreme damage could even require the consistent and lifelong maintenance of dental implants. Taking preventative steps to use dental sealants for kids will save your child from costly and uncomfortable dental procedures in the future, and put them in a better position to maintain their dental health throughout their adult life.
Not sure if your kids need dental sealants or not? Bring them into Mogren Dental. Dr. Mogren would be happy to take a look and let you know what’s best for their young teeth.