As a parent, you always want what’s best for your kid. This means helping them to take care of their teeth in the best way possible. However, trying to explain to a child the importance of dental hygiene is not an easy task. Not only that, but expecting them to brush their teeth regularly and floss correctly, is not always realistic.
Luckily, there is something that you and your dentist can do to help protect your child’s teeth. Dental sealants are a non-invasive and preventive dental treatment that can be used to reduce the risk of tooth decay. They work by sealing the tooth, effectively preventing cavity-causing bacteria from coming in contact with the tooth surface. When bacteria is prevented from settling on the tooth, it reduces the risk of your child developing cavities.
However, one thing you’ll need to consider before having a dental sealant placed on your child’s teeth is how long it will last. Although sealants can safely remain on the teeth for up to nine years, they are not completely effective for the entirety of their lifespan. Due to this, most dentists recommend that dental sealants are applied every two to four years.
In order to understand why sealants need to be reapplied every two the four years, it is important to understand how they are applied and how they work. Dental sealants are ultra-thin coatings of composite resin applied by being brushed onto the surface of the teeth. Since the molars are highly texturized and towards the back of the mouth, they are a common location for pediatric cavities. Therefore, sealants are generally brushed over the pits and fissures on the chewing surfaces of the molars. This provides a protective barrier between the tooth surface and outside elements, such as bacteria and plaque. They work by not allowing these outer elements to affect the natural tooth surface.
The problem with dental sealants, however, is that they wear down over time due to the excessive chewing forces that molars are regularly exposed to. For this reason, it is recommended to have your child’s sealant regularly checked to ensure that they are still intact. Dental sealants that have become damaged or excessively worn can lead to decay-causing bacteria becoming trapped under the sealant, which can ultimately result in the formation of dental cavities. To prevent this from happening, It’s important that you take your child to their dentist at least once every 6 months. .
To prevent your child’s dental sealant from becoming damaged, it is important to encourage them to avoid damaging behaviors. Some examples of behaviors that could be damaging include chewing on ice, chewing on hard candies such as Jawbreakers, biting their nails, or using their teeth to open packages.
Another way to protect your child’s dental sealants is to encourage them to practice good oral hygiene habits. Although it may be hard to enforce these rules, do your best to encourage your child to brush their teeth twice a day and floss once a day. Although dental sealants decrease the risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease, they are not a replacement for proper dental hygiene. It is important to stress this to your child so that they will continue to brush and floss their teeth.
As you can see, dental sealants can be applied to the surface of your child’s teeth in order to protect them from bacteria that can cause tooth decay and gum disease. Once they are applied, sealants are most effective in the first four years. Nevertheless, sealants should regularly be examined by your child’s dentist to ensure there is no premature wear or damage that can cause decay. By avoiding damaging behaviors and encouraging your child to practice good oral hygiene, dental sealants will remain effective in their ability to reduce the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
Dr. April Toyer became a Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry in 2011 and is proud to be a consultant for Committee of Sedation and Anesthesia within the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.