What are sealants?
Regular brushing and flossing are not just important for adults. These habits are as essential for children as well. Children, however, often have a harder time maintaining proper oral hygiene. They may skip out on brushing sessions, not brush for a full two minutes, or they may miss certain areas of their mouths. This can lead to a buildup of plaque and bacteria, increasing their risk for developing cavities. One particular area of the mouth that is especially susceptible is the chewing surfaces of the molars. With deep crevices, food particles and bacteria can easily get stuck and can be hard to remove. At Douglas L. Park, DDS, Pediatric Dentistry, we can provide your child with an extra preventative measure with sealants.
How Does My Child Get Cavities?
Brushing and flossing are necessary habits for your child to remove plaque and bacteria buildup from the surfaces of the teeth. While naturally occurring, the plaque is naturally acidic, and bacteria produce acids as they consume sugars lingering in the mouth. If not properly removed, the acids begin to eat away at the protective enamel layer of the teeth, causing decay. Untreated decay leads to small pits or cavities. Cavities only continue to worsen the longer they go untreated, compromising the structure of the affected tooth. Cavities can also enter the inner layers of the teeth, allowing bacteria to get inside, which can then lead to a painful infection.
What are Sealants?
Sealants are an application that is designed to protect the chewing surfaces of the molars. Made up of plastic and other materials, sealants are designed to cover over the deep grooves and crevices on the molars, preventing food particles and bacteria from getting stuck inside. Along with covering over the crevices, sealants also help to make the molars easier for your child to keep clean. They can be used on baby teeth as well as adult teeth.
Getting Sealants is Easy and Painless
The process for getting sealants is quick and easy, and it can typically be completed in less than half an hour. It is also a completely painless procedure. There is no need to administer a local anesthetic. Getting sealants begins with cleaning and drying the teeth. Next, we apply an acid etch to the chewing surfaces of the molars. This is done to make a rough surface so that the sealant material can better adhere. The acid is washed off, and the teeth dried again. We then apply the sealants and use a specialized light to cure, or dry, the material. Once dry, the sealants provide your child with immediate protection. Our team will talk your child through the process to help them feel more comfortable while we work.
Helping Your Child Keep Their Teeth Healthy
While the sealants protect the chewing surfaces of the molars, decreasing the risk of tooth decay and cavities, your child still needs to maintain good oral hygiene practices. Sealants only protect the areas where they are applied. Cavities can still develop on the other surfaces of the teeth, including around the edges of the sealants. It is still important for your child to brush twice a day, floss daily, and have their teeth cleaned and examined regularly. While the sealants are made up of plastic, they are still relatively strong and can stand up to most daily wear and tear. If sealants do get damaged, we can easily replace them.
If you are interested in learning more about sealants, and finding out if they are right for your child, call Douglas L. Park, DDS, Pediatric Dentistry today at (503) 663-8141.