Parent’s Guide to Children’s Dental Sealants

Dental sealants are often applied to the chewing surfaces of children’s teeth to keep them cavity-free. Made of shaded or clear plastic, dental sealants are painted onto the grooved and pitted surfaces of the permanent molars and premolars. Once dried, the sealant provides a protective barrier, keeping out food and bacteria that can contribute to decay. Here’s a few things you should know about dental sealants for children.

Brushing and flossing go a long way to keep plaque at bay, but it’s not always easy to reach the small nooks and crannies inside a child’s mouth. Many pediatric dentists recommend dental sealants to protect these vulnerable areas and to minimize the risk of developing cavities. For these reasons, children and teenagers are all suitable candidates for dental sealants.

Dental Sealant Process

Applying dental sealants to teeth is quick and painless, and requires no anesthetic. Sealants are typically placed after a routine dental cleaning, as the teeth must be thoroughly cleaned and free of plaque before sealants can be applied. Next, each tooth is dried and an absorbent material is placed around each tooth to keep the area dry.

The dentist will then apply an acid solution to the chewing surfaces of the teeth to create a rough surface in which the sealant will better adhere. The teeth are rinsed and dried a second time, and the sealant is painted onto the tooth surfaces. While the sealant is able to dry on its own, a curing light may be used to quickly harden the sealant.

Benefits of Dental Sealants

Dental sealants can protect teeth from decay for up to 10 years. However, the sealants are susceptible to chipping. At each dental appointment, your child’s pediatric dentist will check for signs of wearing and replace the sealants as necessary. Pit and fissure decay can occur early in life. Dental sealants are an excellent way to keep your children’s teeth safe from decay. It’s also important for children to do the following:

  • Brush teeth twice a day
  • Floss daily
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Limit snacks
  • Visit the dentist regularly

Different from fillings that help to restore a tooth once decay has done its damage, a sealant helps to protect a tooth from damage before tooth decay develops. Having dental sealants placed on your child’s teeth before decay begins will save you time and money in the long run, and is significantly healthier for your child. For more information or to schedule a sealant visit, contact your child’s pediatric dentist.