Tooth decay can be painful for children, and it’s only the beginning — left untreated, decay can lead to cavities, premature tooth loss and periodontal disease, also known as gum disease. This threat is significant because tooth decay is highly prevalent in preschoolers.
Dental sealants are one of the most important tools for preventing tooth decay in Sea Girt, NJ children. When used in combination with regular visits to the pediatric dentist and proper home hygiene, sealants can enhance the mouth’s natural defenses and keep your children’s smiles healthy.
Molars, the larger, flatter teeth toward the back of the mouth, can be difficult to clean. This is why they are the site of tooth decay 80% of the time in children’s mouths. Decay-causing bacteria often hide in the elaborate contours known as pits and fissures on the chewing surfaces of the molars, putting children at high risk of developing tooth decay.
Sealants act as a barrier to ensure that food particles and oral bacteria cannot latch on to the enamel surfaces of the teeth. They do not directly enhance the health of teeth, and should not be used as a substitute for general oral hygiene. However, sealants are designed to prevent tooth decay, and therefore can be a less painful, more comfortable, better-looking and more cost-effective alternative to dental fillings, which are designed to treat tooth decay after it develops.
If the Doctor feels that your child is at high risk of tooth decay, sealants may be applied not only to the molars but to other teeth as well.
Most dental sealants are liquid plastic, painted on after the affected teeth are thoroughly cleaned and prepped. Sometimes, sealants are bright pink when wet in order to help the Doctor make sure that the entire surface of each tooth has been thoroughly coated. The pink substance becomes clear when it dries.
After application, many types of sealants harden on their own. Others are hardened and cured through exposure to a special light. In either case, the final result is a clear, or sometimes whitish, layer of thin, hard and durable plastic coating on teeth that would otherwise be vulnerable to decay.
Dental sealant application is usually recommended shortly after the teeth emerge. Depending on the hygiene and diet of your child, sealants may last for the entire life of their primary, or baby, teeth. If they are not properly cared for, they can require replacement.
Take your child to see the Doctor twice a year for evaluation and maintenance of the sealants. If the seal begins to crack or lift off the teeth, food particles can become trapped against the tooth enamel, leading to decay.