I’m often asked by the parents of my patients if their children should get dental sealants. Simply put, I’ll almost always answer “yes.”
But, as with almost everything involving a patient’s oral health, the answer will also depend upon the patient.
A dental sealant is a thin, plastic coating painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth — usually the back teeth — to prevent tooth decay. It’s because of their shape, with all the crevasses and deep valleys, that dental sealants work best on molars. The sealant quickly bonds to these depressions and grooves of the teeth, forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth.
Sealants tend to work best soon after children get their permanent teeth. Sealants can’t be applied to teeth that already have cavities or significant decay, so you’ll want to get them applied to the teeth as early as possible. Kids tend to get their cavities during ages 6 to 14. So, the earlier the better.
However, adults who have taken good care of their teeth and don’t have decay or fillings in their molars can also benefit from sealants. Let’s face it, we can all use a little extra help when it comes to keeping our teeth clean and maintaining our oral health.
Although thorough brushing and flossing can remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth, they can’t always get into all the nooks and crannies of the back teeth. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas from tooth decay by “sealing out” plaque and food.
Sealants can protect teeth from decay for up to 10 years, but you should still get a check-up every 6 months to check for chips and wear. Also, don’t forget, just because you have sealants, doesn’t mean you can put the toothbrush away. Sealants are just another way to help you keep your teeth healthy. Brushing and flossing daily are still needed to keep your mouth as healthy as possible.
For more information, be sure to visit me or my staff at one of the three locations shown below, go to my website at ModernFamilyDentalCare.com, or watch my informational Dental Minute video that discusses sealants.
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