Research indicates that as many as 90 percent of all cavities in school-aged children occur in pits and fissures, which are deep anatomical features on the chewing surfaces of back teeth.
When properly done at Wonderland Pediatric Dentistry, sealants are very effective in preventing pit and fissure cavities on molars. Studies have shown that children who have sealants placed on their permanent molars are 72 percent less likely to receive restorative dental treatment over the next three years than children who did not have sealants placed.
What Is a Sealant?
A sealant is a white preventive restoration that bonds to the deep pits and fissures of your child’s permanent molars. Extensive research has shown that sealants are capable of preventing tooth decay that originates in deep anatomical crevices of permanent molars.
Sealants prevent decay in permanent molars by making the tooth anatomy more smooth and less plaque retaining. Therefore, bacteria and food particles are prevented from lodging in the deep nooks and crannies of the molars.
When Should Sealants Be Placed?
Sealants are typically placed only on adult molars because baby molars usually have a smoother, less "groovy" anatomy. Occasionally, some baby molars have deep pits and grooves just like adult molars. In those cases, sealants may be recommended for baby molars as well in order to prevent cavities in deep anatomical features of your child's teeth.
For adult molars, sealants are typically placed for the first time around the age of 6 or 7. This is usually the time when permanent first molars erupt behind the baby molars. When the second permanent molars erupt around the age of 12 to 13, they should be sealed as well. We will check the sealants at each routine dental cleaning appointment to ensure that they still tightly adhere to the teeth.
How Are Sealants Placed?
The sealant application process is relatively stress free for children. No numbing or anesthesia is needed, and teeth do not require any alteration prior to sealant application.
The sealant application process is very sensitive to moisture; therefore, proper mouth isolation with cotton rolls and paper stickers is done to ensure proper sealant application. Once the tooth is properly isolated, we treat it with special cleaning and bonding agents prior to sealant application. Sealant material is then applied and hardened with a special blue light.
What Precautions Should I Take Immediately after Sealant Placement?
Immediately after sealant placement there are no special precautions. Since no numbing medicine is used during sealant application, your child should be able to eat and drink right away.
How Should I Take Care of My Sealants?
The same rules that apply to taking care of your teeth also apply to sealants. It is best to avoid chewing extremely hard substances like ice or hard candy. Avoid excessively sticky candy. Visit your pediatric dentist for regular cleaning appointments to ensure that your sealants still remain on your molars.
How Long Do Dental Sealants Last?
Research indicates that with proper follow-up care, the success rate of sealants may be as high as 80-90 percent, even ten years after placement.
If you’d like more information about dental sealants, please contact our Roswell, GA pediatric dental office.