Sealants protect the grooved and pitted surfaces of teeth, especially the chewing surfaces of back teeth where most cavities in children are found. Sealants are made of clear or shaded resin applied to young permanent, fully erupted, healthy teeth to keep them cavity-free.
Children may regularly and effectively brush and floss, however, deep pit and fissures on the biting surfaces of posterior teeth act as food trap, placing children in danger of tooth decay. Sealants reduce caries by “sealing out” food and plaque.
Sealants can last for many years if properly placed by the dentist and properly cared for by the young patient. Children are protected by sealants through-out their cavity-prone years. Sealants last longer with good oral hygiene. The paediatric dentist should check placed sealant regularly and recommend reapplication or repair when necessary.
The application of sealants is very quick and comfortable. It takes only one visit. A tooth indicated for sealant is first cleaned. It is then conditioned and dried. The sealant is then flowed onto the grooves of the tooth and allowed to harden using the dentist’s light curing unit. After checking for and removing any biting prematurity on the sealant placed, the child can may eat even right after the appointment.
The application of pit and fissure sealant is very affordable, especially in view of the valuable decay protection it offers the child. It may be good for parents to check their dental health insurance provider about their child’s dental services coverage and talk to the paediatric dentist about the exact cost of sealants for their child.
Teeth most in need of sealants are the six-year and twelve-year molars. Permanent premolars and primary molars will also benefit from sealant placement. Any tooth with deep pits and fissures may actually benefit from the protection of sealants. Every child’s situation is unique and the paediatric dentist can provide parents with an appropriate treatment plan.
It is a reminder, however, that sealants alone will not prevent dental decay in young children. A caries free status will only be achieved when sealants are backed with proper regular brushing and use of fluoride containing pastes, flossing, balanced nutrition, limited snacking, and regular dental visits and fluoride therapy.