When it’s time to go to the dentist, kids are hoping to hear one thing: “No cavities!” Every night, you tell the them to brush their teeth and floss, but what else can you do to prevent cavities? Dental sealants!
The American Dental Association recommends that kids receive sealants as soon as their adult teeth have come in, but far less than that actually receive sealants. Since kids are known to be less-than-diligent about brushing their teeth, sealants can make a big difference in the fight against cavities.
Dental sealants are thin, protective coatings that are applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. By filling in hard-to-reach depressions and grooves in the teeth, sealants eliminate spaces for the bacteria that cause cavities. Nothing can replace brushing and flossing, of course, but sealants can help prevent cavities from forming and slow down the early stages of decay.
The application of dental sealants is painless and, unlike filling a cavity, doesn’t require any drilling. First, the dentist prepares each tooth by cleaning the surface. Then, the dentist applies the sealant material to the cleaned surface of each tooth with a brush and, finally, a special light bonds the sealant to the surface within about 30 seconds. Once the dentist confirms that the sealant has hardened, then you can chew again!
One of the wonderful things about dental sealants is that they can protect teeth for many years before reapplication is necessary. Sealants do wear down over time, so the dentist will simply check for cracks at every appointment and let you know when it’s time for new sealants. But there’s no need to worry about having sealants applied at every checkup.
Yes! Dental sealants are totally safe for kids. There was some debate over potential exposure to BPA during the application process, but dental sealants have been proven to be safe. According to the ADA, breathing air exposes people to about 100 times more BPA than dental sealants. But don’t be afraid to ask your dentists any questions you might have about the safety of sealants or the process itself!
If you’re interested in dental sealants for your kids (or even for yourself), come talk to Dr. McLaughlin and the team at Dental Touch Associates in Cedar Rapids. Nothing compares to seeing a patient look at their new smile for the first time!