Purpose of Dental Sealant
The use of dental sealant has greatly reduced the occurrence of cavities in younger patients. Sealants are particularly effective on the molars, where numerous nooks and crannies can collect food particles, and where it is more difficult for children to brush thoroughly. Sealants help keep food particles out of these natural crevices, making it easier for children to keep their teeth healthy.
What Is Dental Sealant?
Dental sealant is a special resin that is painted over the surfaces of the molars. The resin is dried with a special light until it is properly cured, making it a hard surface that can withstand chewing and biting pressure. The process takes only a few minutes for each tooth and can be performed in the dental office.
Dental sealant fills in the small grooves on the surfaces of the molars, creating a smooth surface where food particles cannot accumulate. The sealant also provides a barrier between the surface of the tooth and any acidic buildup such as plaque that can eventually erode the enamel. This greatly reduces the chances of decay, helping ensure that your child will have strong, healthy molars well into adulthood.
The Best Time for Dental Sealants
Most dentists recommend that sealants be applied as soon as the permanent molars have emerged. They are usually reapplied a few times as your child grows older, both to replenish the original sealant and to seal new molars as they come in.
The first set of permanent molars usually arrives at about the age of six, with the last set emerging at about the age of twelve. Wisdom teeth appear in the late teens or early twenties, but these teeth are usually not sealed. If you are unsure about when your child should have sealants, consult with your dentist to determine an appropriate schedule.
While sealants are not a substitute for diligent oral hygiene and regular dental care, they are an important part of preventive dentistry.