When you were a child, did you ever imagine that you had a secret power? The creative abilities of children often put them into the role of their favorite superhero. In fact, children do seem to have a bit of magic to them: they smile. A lot. Children smile as many as 400 times a day. When we compare this to the average adult who smiles ten times less, we could say that smiling is every child’s superpower.
Parents love nothing more than to see their child smile freely. This is one of the many reasons why we encourage routine dental exams and cleanings for young people. As we have learned more about the causes of cavities, we have gained the outstanding power to reduce a child’s risk of painful tooth decay. One way we do that in our office is to apply dental sealants.
What is a Dental Sealant?
When you get your car washed, you may also get a coating of wax applied to top off the new level of clean. Wax is a topical sealant that protects the paint on a car from water spots and sun damage. A dental sealant is similar. This topical protectant is applied to the chewing surface of back teeth, where tooth decay is more likely to occur due to the deep pits that exist there. The objective in applying sealants is to create a barrier within these deep pits so bacteria and debris cannot collect in hard-to-reach places.
Studies on dental sealants have revealed that a child’s risk of tooth decay decreases by 80% after back teeth are treated with this protective coating.
What you Need to Know about Dental Sealants
One of the primary questions that parents have about dental treatment for their child is if it hurts. The high level of comfort may be one of the best things about dental sealants. Treatment takes very little time and can be described as “painting the teeth.” Here’s how it’s done:
- First, teeth are cleaned and polished;
- Teeth are dried and isolated using a small sheath of material;
- Enamel is etched slightly to create a rough surface that the sealant can adhere to;
- Liquid is applied to each tooth and is hardened with light;
- We check each tooth to ensure sealant has wholly covered the intended surface.
Quick Treatment, Lasting Rewards
Dental sealants can be applied to permanent teeth as soon as they have grown in. In most cases, sealants remain intact for about five years. Treatment can be repeated as needed to prolong a child’s protection against tooth decay. Adults can get dental sealants, too!