Regular brushing and flossing are essential for the oral health of your child. However, many children have a difficult time with properly brushing their teeth, leaving certain areas more prone to bacterial build up and cavities. One of these areas is their molars. The chewing surfaces of the molars have deep grooves and depressions, which can easily collect and harbor food particles and bacteria. At Puyallup Pediatric Dentistry, we can help to protect these vulnerable areas of your child’s teeth with dental sealants.
How Do Cavities Form?
Cavities form as a result of tooth decay. However, how does tooth decay happen? Your child’s mouth houses oral bacteria. While it lives there naturally, it can be problematic. When your child eats, food particles linger in their mouth. Some foods can easily become lodged in the crevices of the molars’ chewing surfaces. Oral bacteria thrive on this food. As they eat, they multiply. They also produce harmful acids that begin to eat away at the enamel of your child’s teeth. Eventually, small pits form and bacteria can then hide away further from the bristles of a toothbrush. There, they continue their destruction and can lead to serious issues, such as infections.
What Are Sealants?
Sealants are a treatment designed to protect the chewing surfaces of your child’s molars. They are a synthetic coating, made up of plastic and other materials. They cover up the grooves and crevices of your child’s molars, effectively sealing out food particles, bacteria, and any other debris. They help to make keeping the molars clean and healthy a much easier process.
How Are Sealants Applied?
The process for applying dental sealants is quick, easy, and completely painless. We start by cleaning your child’s teeth. If they do have cavities, they must be treated first. After the teeth are cleaned, they are dried. We then apply an acid etch on the molars, which creates a rough texture on the enamel. This texture makes it easier for the sealant material to bond with your teeth. We then clean the teeth and dry them again. The sealant material is painted onto the teeth and dried with a special light.
While this process is quick and easy, we understand that it may be difficult for some children to sit still. We will do everything we can to make sure that your child is comfortable while their sealants are being placed.
How Long Do They Last?
Dental sealants are relatively strong, although they are not indestructible. They can withstand normal biting and chewing, along with normal wear, and can easily last several years. During your child’s routine dental exams, we will check to make sure their sealants are in good shape. If any of the sealants have been damaged, they can easily be reapplied if necessary.
Care for Sealants
Sealants are a great additional protective measure for protecting your child’s teeth from cavities. However, they are not a substitute for good oral hygiene practices. It is still important that your child brush and floss their teeth every single day. Sealants can only protect the chewing surfaces of their molars, and will only be effective with other preventative measures. Along with at-home care, your child should be seen at least twice a year for dental cleanings and exams.
With sealants, we can help your child in the protection of their mouth from cavities. For more information on sealants, or if you are interested in getting them for your child, contact Puyallup Pediatric Dentistry today at (253) 466-1696!