By Dr. Andrew Johnson, Andrew Johnson Pediatric Dentistry
One of the most common questions I receive from parents is “what are sealants?” and “when does my child need them?” Sealants have been proven to be a highly effective way of providing an additional barrier to cavities. The majority of cavities occur in places sealants could have protected. Sealants are a quick, easy and cost effective way of preventing cavities.
Even if your child brushes and flosses carefully, it is difficult and sometimes impossible to clean the tiny grooves in certain teeth. Toothbrush bristles are just too thick to reach into the pits and fissures. Food and bacteria build up in these depressions, placing your child in danger of tooth decay.
What are sealants?
Sealants protect the chewing surfaces of teeth where most cavities are found. Made of tooth-colored plastic, sealants are applied to the teeth to help keep them cavity-free. Sealant application only takes 15 minutes and is completed by drying the teeth, applying “tooth glue” to the chewing surface and then the sealant is flowed into the grooves. The final step is to harden the sealant for 30 seconds using a curing light.
How long do sealants last?
Research shows that sealants can last for many years. If your child has good oral hygiene and avoids biting hard objects like ice cubes, crunchy candy or sticky foods, sealants will last longer.
Which teeth should be sealed?
The teeth most at risk of decay – and therefore most in need of sealants – are the six-year and twelve-year molars. But any tooth with grooves or pits may benefit from the protection of sealants.
If my child has sealants, are brushing and flossing still important?
Absolutely! Sealants are only one step in the plan to keep your child cavity-free for a lifetime. Brushing, flossing and regular dental visits are still essential to a bright, healthy smile. As a parent myself, sealants are another way I help keep my kid’s teeth healthy for a lifetime.
Andrew Johnson Pediatric Dentistry
2700 Coltsgate Road, Suite 204,
Charlotte, NC 28211