Tooth decay remains a prevalent chronic disease in children today, often leading to cavities that necessitate medical attention and can cause significant discomfort. Cavities, or dental caries, arise when the enamel of a child's tooth is compromised by acidic substances produced by bacteria in the mouth. Dental sealants stand out as an effective tool in preventing cavities and ensuring that young smiles remain intact.
Dental sealants are a protective coating applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth-premolars and molars-where most cavities in children are found. The sealants quickly bond into the depressions and grooves of the teeth, forming a shield over the enamel of each tooth. Essentially, they block out bacteria and acids that contribute to tooth decay.
The materials used in dental sealants are usually composed of a variety of resin-based compounds. These can include bisphenol A-glycidyl methacrylate (Bis-GMA), urethane dimethacrylate (UDMA), or composite resin that may sometimes contain filler particles to enhance durability. Each of these materials is chosen for its ability to adhere to the tooth surface and withstand the force of chewing.
Dental sealants differ from fillings in their preventive application. While both treatments involve the application of resin-based materials to the teeth, fillings are used to repair an already decayed tooth-essentially, they are a reactive treatment. Sealants are a proactive preventive measure applied to healthy teeth to prevent decay from occurring in the first place. The process of applying sealants is also less invasive and more straightforward than that of placing a filling, as it requires no drilling or removal of tooth structure.
The sealants fill these grooves and pits, creating a smooth surface that is less hospitable to bacteria and easier to clean.In essence, sealants act much like a raincoat for the teeth. Just as a raincoat forms a barrier against the elements, keeping the wearer dry and comfortable, sealants provide a barrier against the 'elements' of the oral environment-bacterial plaque and food debris.
At Las Vegas Pediatric Dentistry, our expert team specializes in pediatric crowns. Call us now at 702-660-7099 to schedule an appointment.
The consensus among dental professionals is that the optimal time to apply sealants is shortly after the permanent back teeth have erupted. This typically occurs between the ages of 6 and 14.
The reasons this age is considered optimal are twofold. Firstly, it corresponds with the eruption of the first permanent molars (around age 6) and the second permanent molars (around age 12), which are the teeth that benefit most from sealants. Secondly, children at this age may not yet have developed the most rigorous oral hygiene habits, making them more vulnerable to cavities. By sealing the teeth before decay begins, the formative years can be safeguarded against potential dental complications.
Here is a step-by-step description of the process:
Cleaning: A rotating brush and a paste are commonly used to ensure the surface is completely clean.
Preparation: Once the teeth are clean, they are dried, and cotton or another absorbent material is placed around them to keep them dry. A solution called an etchant is then applied to roughen up the chewing surfaces to help the sealant material bond to the teeth.
Applying the Sealant: The sealant material is then painted onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. In some cases, a special curing light is used to help the sealant harden.
For children with sealants, basic oral hygiene practices are largely the same as for anyone else, with a few considerations to ensure the longevity of the sealants. Here are some easy tips for kids:
When it comes to diet, some foods are best limited or avoided to prevent damage to sealants, such as:
Regular dental check-ups are vital. The dentist will check the sealants during regular visits to ensure they are intact and provide protection as intended. These visits are also an opportunity to apply new sealants if the original ones have worn off.
It is important to remind children that although sealants provide a high level of protection against cavities on the surfaces where they are placed, they are not a substitute for good oral hygiene and regular dental care. Sealants are just one part of a complete dental care routine that includes cleaning, balanced nutrition, and regular dental visits.
When weighing the merits of dental sealants, the financial considerations are as compelling as the health benefits. The average cost of dental sealants, a mere $50 to $75 per tooth, is a modest investment when juxtaposed with the expense of treating even a single cavity – which can run into the hundreds of dollars. Sealants are not merely a dental procedure; they are a financially savvy decision that protects more than your child's oral health; it safeguards your family budget.
Your child's smile is priceless, and preventive dental care, including the application of sealants, is an essential component of preserving that treasure. With the risk of cavities significantly diminished, your child can continue to shine brightly, unhindered by dental distress.