Dental SealantsDental sealants are thin, plastic coatings painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth, particularly the back teeth like premolars and molars. They stop tooth decay by forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth, usually applied to the enamel of permanent teeth. They effectively prevent 80% of cavities over 2 years in back teeth, where most cavities occur.
Materials Used in Sealants and Their Safety
|A blend of resin and glass ionomer, known as compomers. Hydrophobic and delivers fluoride in lower amounts.
|Commonly used on children due to its effective fluoride release and compatibility with their teeth.
|A mixture of ceramic and a plastic compound, often tooth-coloured. Hardened with a curing light.
|Preferred for its aesthetic and durability, offering up to a decade of protection against cavities.
|Glass Ionomer (GI)
|Known for long-term fluoride release, strengthening enamel.
|Recommended for children’s primary teeth, reducing decay risk by about 35%.
The Benefits of Dental Sealants for Children
Cavity PreventionSealants effectively penetrate and seal pits and fissures on the surfaces of teeth, which are common areas for cavities to develop. By forming a physical barrier on the tooth surface, sealants prevent these areas from harbouring cavity-causing bacteria.
Comprehensive Caries ManagementADA Science & Research Institute explains that sealants play a big role in teeth care. They help stop cavities from starting and prevent small cavities from worsening. This is especially important for the back teeth in kids and teenagers.
Statistics Supporting EffectivenessAccording to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, about 41.7% of children aged 6 to 11 years have dental sealants. This means a notable use of sealants as a preventive step against cavities in this age group. Also, a detailed study of sealant prevalence showed an increase in the use of sealants from 1999–2004 to 2011–2016. For instance, the percentage of children aged 6 to 8 with sealants increased from 20.3% to 32.1%, and for those aged 9 to 11, it rose from 40.1% to 50.7%.
Dentist’s View on Sealants
|What Dentists Say
|Why It’s Important
|Great at Stopping Cavities
|Sealants can prevent more cavities than fluoride treatments.
|Should Be Used More
|They’re good, but not enough kids use sealants.
Common Concerns or Myths
|Sealants are a new treatment.
|Sealants have been used since the 1960s and are well-established in dental practice.
|When applied correctly, sealants do not leak. However, they require maintenance over time.
|They’re only for kids.
|Sealants benefit people of all ages, not just children.
|Applying sealants is a painless process.
|Sealants are affordable and a cost-effective way to prevent decay in the long run.
|Treated teeth will decay.
|Properly applied sealants effectively prevent decay by sealing the tooth.
|They don’t last.
|Sealants can last for five to ten years, though they may need some maintenance, especially on molars.
How to Determine if Sealants Are Right for Your ChildTo determine if dental sealants are right for your child, consider the following steps:
- A dentist will examine your child’s teeth to assess if sealants are suitable. This involves checking for any existing cavities or dental issues.
- Sealants can be especially beneficial if your child is prone to cavities, perhaps due to the structure of their teeth or other factors.
- A thorough consultation with a pediatric dentist is important. They can provide personalized advice based on your child’s oral health and specific needs.
The Procedure of Applying Sealants
- Each tooth receiving a sealant is thoroughly cleaned and dried, then surrounded with absorbent material to stay dry.
- An acidic solution roughens the tooth surface for better sealant bonding. This step is painless and doesn’t affect the tooth’s appearance.
- The teeth are rinsed and dried again to prepare for sealant application.
- The sealant is painted over the tooth enamel. This process is quick and comfortable.
- The sealant is hardened using a curing light, ensuring a durable seal.
Duration, Pain Level, and Expectations During the ProcedureApplying sealants is fast, requiring only a few minutes per tooth. The process is painless, involving no discomfort for the child. Children can expect a quick, comfortable procedure. They will have their teeth cleaned, treated with a special solution, and then have the sealant applied and cured with light.
Post-Application Care and Maintenance
|Regular Oral Hygiene
|Brush and floss regularly.
|Neglect brushing and flossing around the sealants.
|Visit your dentist for regular checkups.
|Forget to schedule regular dental appointments even if you have sealants.
|Be cautious while chewing.
|Chew on hard objects that can damage or break the sealants.
|Choosing the Right Toothpaste
|Use non-abrasive toothpaste.
|Use toothpaste with abrasives or fluoride, which can damage the sealants or make them less effective.
Age and Timing for SealantsThe ideal time to apply sealants is closely linked to the eruption of permanent teeth in children:
|Ideal Age Range for Sealant Application
|Around 6 years of age
|This is typically when a child’s first molars appear.
|Up to 12 years of age
|Permanent molars continue to emerge until around 12 years.
|Generally between 6 – 12 years
|Premolars erupt in this age range, making it a good time for sealants.
Alternatives to Sealants
|Comparison to Sealants
|Complementary to sealants
|Brushing & Flossing
|Important for all
|Less effective for pits/fissures
|No physical protection like sealants
|Recommended for all
|Complements, doesn’t replace sealants
|Less comprehensive than sealants
|High decay risk individuals
|Less targeted than sealants
Improve Your Child’s SmileThe decision to get dental sealants for your child is a wise investment in their oral health. To make an informed choice and receive personalized guidance, we strongly encourage parents to consult a pediatric dentist. They can assess your child’s unique needs and provide recommendations to set them on a path to a cavity-free smile and excellent dental health.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, dental sealants can be removed by a dentist when needed. There are a few situations where removal might be considered:
- Replacement: If a sealant has worn out or chipped, it can be removed and replaced with a new one.
- Orthodontic Treatment: During orthodontic treatment (e.g., braces), sealants on specific teeth may be removed temporarily to facilitate treatment. New sealants can be applied afterward if necessary.
- Dental Procedures: Some dental procedures may require temporary removal of sealants to access the tooth’s surface. After the procedure, new sealants can be applied if recommended.
No, dental sealants do not affect the taste of food. Sealants are applied to the chewing surfaces of teeth, primarily on molars and premolars, to create a protective barrier that helps prevent cavities.
Since sealants are placed on the biting surfaces of teeth and do not come into direct contact with the taste buds or the oral cavity, they have no impact on a person’s ability to taste food. You should be able to enjoy the flavours of your food just as you did before the sealants were applied.
Allergic reactions to dental sealants are extremely rare. Sealants are made of materials that are usually well-tolerated. If you have concerns about allergies, discuss them with your dentist before getting sealants.
They can provide more information and address any specific worries you may have. While the risk is very low, informing your dentist of any known allergies is a good idea to ensure your safety during the procedure.
Yes, in some cases, dental sealants can be placed on baby teeth. While sealants are more commonly applied to permanent molars and premolars, there are situations where applying sealants to baby teeth (primary teeth) may be considered:
- High Risk of Decay: A dentist may recommend sealants as a preventive measure if a child has a high risk of developing cavities in their baby teeth due to deep grooves and fissures.
- Preservation of Baby Molars: Baby molars play an important role in proper chewing and maintaining space for permanent teeth. Applying sealants to these teeth can help protect them from decay.
- Longevity of Baby Teeth: Some baby molars remain in the mouth until the child is 12 or 13. Sealants can help ensure the longevity of these teeth.