What Do Sealants Do?

Dental sealants are plastic coatings placed on the chewing surfaces of the teeth to prevent tooth decay. Sealants protect the pre-molars (which come in around age 6) and the molars (which come in around age 12), as these are the teeth used the most for chewing. When food gets stuck in the grooves of the teeth, it causes plaque, which in turn causes cavities. Sealants prevent this from happening by “sealing out” food and bacteria.

Sealants are often a good idea for children, who are more at risk for cavities on the surface of the teeth. This is because small children have trouble properly brushing their teeth, and might not notice when a piece of food gets stuck in their teeth. Eating a lot of sugary foods is an additional risk factor for cavities in kids. Drinking a lot of juice or eating gummy vitamins, for example, causes plaque buildup due to all the sugar and stickiness that coats the teeth. Sealants can protect children’s teeth during the most cavity-prone years, between the ages of 6 and 14, so that they’re ready to enter adolescence with great dental health.

Studies show that children with sealants have significantly less plaque after a few years than children who simply brush and floss regularly. Sealants are a safe and smart choice to prevent cavities, and so at Children’s Dental World, we use sealants as part of our preventative care to keep your child’s teeth healthy. Sealants are a very affordable dental procedure, especially when considered against the cost of filling several cavities. Sealants are a good idea if your child has deeper grooves on the surface of her teeth or has a lot of plaque buildup. We can discuss together whether sealants would be a good choice for your child in order to prevent cavities.

If we do decide that your child should have sealants placed, we’ll take care of it in just one appointment. The process for placing sealants is quick, simple, and painless, so you won’t have to worry about your child’s comfort. First, we clean the teeth that we’re going to seal, making sure there is no food or plaque left in the grooves of the teeth. Next, we prepare the tooth’s surface with an etching gel so that the sealant, a liquid plastic, can easily bond to it. When the sealant goes on, it fits perfectly into the tooth’s grooves and looks very natural. Finally, we set and dry the sealant. Each step is painless for your child, and all in all the process should take only about five minutes for each tooth we seal.

Sealants last for several years, protecting your child through the phases when they are most at risk for cavities. They look natural and require no extra care. However, sealants are only one part of a healthy smile–you still need to make sure that your child practices good dental hygiene with regular brushing and flossing!