When your kid’s permanent molars begin to erupt, we typically discuss the importance of sealants. Dental sealants are placed over the deep pits and fissures of teeth to help prevent the start of cavities. These deep grooves are common areas for cavities to begin in children, and sealants have been proven to help reduce the incidence in tooth decay.
Which teeth typically need sealants?
Usually it is only the permanent molars that need sealants, but if there is a higher risk of tooth decay we may recommend sealants on other permanent teeth. This could include incisors or premolars.
How old will they be when sealants are recommended?
The permanent first molars typically erupt around 6 years old. Every child can vary on timing, so it may not be until they are 8 or even 9. Recommendations may also be made based on each child’s ability to tolerate the procedure.
What should they expect during a sealant?
It is essential to keep the tooth completely dry during the procedure. Any saliva on the tooth will cause the sealant to fall off. So we protect the area with cotton and use suction to remove any moisture. The tooth is brushed clean, cleaned microscopically with a liquid, then rinsed and dried. The sealant material is then painted on as a liquid and is hardened by a strong light for about 20 seconds. If everything goes well, each individual sealant should only take a few minutes.
Do they need to wait to eat after the sealant is placed?
After the procedure, they are free to eat, drink, brush and floss. However, we recommend avoiding sticky and hard foods for a few days. The sealant needs to ‘wear down’ into the correct spot, and this can take a few days. If they chew food that is too stick or hard, it could increase the risk of losing the sealant before it settles into their bite.
How much does it reduce their risk of cavities?
For children who have had sealants placed, studies have shown a 70-80% reduction in the incidence of cavities in the grooves of the teeth. It is a very effective preventative measure that can be taken to help protect their teeth.
For more information, visit www.dentistwestchester.com.
Lee T. Brown, DDS
Brown and Kupper, DDS