You want to protect your child from the pain of toothaches and the need to undergo dental fillings. Making sure they brush and floss daily is the best way to go about that, but you can also provide their teeth with an extra layer of protection by having them sealed. Your dentist may explain this option to you when your child is the right age. Here's how it works.
What A Dental Sealant Does
A dental sealant is a thin coating that the dentist applies to your child's teeth. It acts as a barrier that keeps food particles from getting stuck in the teeth and causing tooth decay. Sealant is especially effective for the molars since they have an uneven surface that makes it difficult to remove all the food bits with brushing. By preventing food from contacting the enamel, tooth decay is kept at bay and your child may experience fewer cavities.
How Sealant Is Applied
Getting dental sealant is an easy procedure for your child to go through since it isn't painful. First, your dentist has to rough up the surface of the tooth with an acidic substance so the sealant will adhere well. Then, the sealant is painted onto the tooth and cured with a blue light. Your child may have one tooth treated at a time or several depending on when the teeth erupt.
When Dental Sealant Can Be Applied
The sooner a sealant is applied, the sooner your child's tooth can be protected and the less risk there will be of developing a cavity. Sealant can be applied on the primary teeth once they've erupted and then again on the permanent teeth when they come in. This protects your child's teeth all through their childhood. Once your child reaches adulthood, they can continue to have sealant applied for lifelong protection of their enamel.
When your child goes for regular dental checkups, the dentist examines the sealant to make sure it is still intact and doing its job. It may be necessary to reapply it occasionally when it starts to wear down. Your child will probably be ready for his or her first sealant as soon as the first molars erupt which could be about the time they start grade school.
Sealants don't replace brushing because brushing is important for healthy teeth and gums. They also don't replace the need for regular dental visits. However, they can offer additional protection from cavities so your child can avoid suffering with a toothache and the need for dental drilling and fillings as best possible.