What are Dental Sealants and Why do My Kids Need Them?
Many parents have heard of dental sealants, but are unclear about whether they are necessary for supporting optimal dental health. After all, sealants are a relatively new tool on the dental scene, and most parents did not have access to sealants as part of their routine dental care. The team at Wright Smiles Pediatric Dentistry is proud to offer the following information about dental sealants, in the hopes of informing parents about the benefits of including this service in their overall dental health approach.
What are Dental Sealants and How do They Work?
One of the most common areas where kids develop cavities are on the chewing surfaces of their molars. These teeth have a multitude of tiny crevices, and it is very easy for food particles to become lodged in those pits and grooves. Unless all of that food is removed during brushing, an environment is created that is ideal for bacterial growth and the subsequent development of cavities. Dental sealants address this problem by placing a thin layer of plastic over the chewing surface of molars. That creates an effective barrier between the natural surface of the teeth and food, which can significantly reduce the risk of cavities.
Is it Painful to Get Dental Sealants?
Many parents and children are concerned that the process of getting sealants might be painful. In reality, however, the process is virtually painless. The dental professional simply paints on a liquid resin, and the patient remains still with an open mouth while the resin hardens in place. The entire process can be completed in just a few minutes, with no pain or discomfort. It should also be noted that sealants are an effective way to prevent cavities and that the treatment process of having a cavity filled is far more involved than getting sealants.
How Long do Dental Sealants Last?
Once sealants are applied, they can provide protection for up to ten years. They are not removed, but simply wear off over the course of time. Fortunately, by the time the sealants have worn off, most children will have established proper dental care habits and will be able to effectively keep their teeth clean on their own. The lifespan of your sealants can be extended by avoiding actions that create excess strain on the chewing surfaces of teeth. That means avoiding chewing on non-food items, using your teeth as tools to open containers or hold items and grinding teeth.
At Wright Smiles Pediatric Dentistry, we support the use of sealants as part of a comprehensive dental care program. Many insurance plans consider sealants as an aspect of preventative care and will cover part or all of the cost of the process. Sealants can be applied during a regular cleaning/checkup appointment, and parents are encouraged to contact our office with any questions or concerns, or to schedule your next pediatric dental appointment!