Of course, daily brushing and flossing and twice-yearly checkups and cleanings are the foundations for stellar oral health care. But there’s a preventive strategy many people don’t know about — sealants.
Our experienced dentists at OK Tooth in Midtown Manhattan, New York, are passionate about preventive dentistry and believe it’s much better to avoid problems than to treat them.
True to their name, dental sealants coat and cover the chewing surfaces of your teeth — the tops of premolars and molars — to protect them from harmful bacteria and plaque.
While nothing replaces routine brushing and flossing, sealants offer an extra measure of protection, hugging every nook and cranny so bacteria can’t get in. Children’s premolars and molars are especially vulnerable to tooth decay because the surface area of these teeth tends to be pitted and grooved, providing excellent hiding places for bacteria.
Sealants are made of plastic resin that adheres to the chewing surface and repels plaque, particularly in those crevices that are too narrow for even a single toothbrush bristle to reach.
If we determine your child can benefit from sealants, we clean and dry the teeth thoroughly before we apply an acidic gel that slightly etches the teeth so the sealant can bond with the surface more effectively. We quickly rinse away the gel, dry the teeth again, and apply the liquid sealant to the teeth. A blue light hardens the sealant and creates a strong bond.
That’s it — quick, easy, and painless.
Most children can benefit from dental sealants. Although we don’t typically recommend sealants for baby teeth, there’s no age restriction. If your child has cavity-prone baby teeth, we may suggest sealants to prevent early tooth decay.
Baby teeth eventually fall out, but if your youngster gets a cavity before then, they have to endure the process of getting a filling to avoid the spread of decay and infection. Sealants give them a better chance of avoiding that. Because half of all kids get a cavity in their baby teeth between ages 6 and 8, you may want to consider sealants for your younger kids.
More commonly, we wait until your child gets a little older. Baby teeth start falling out around age 5, and most permanent teeth have erupted by age 11 or 12. We can place sealants on the permanent teeth as they emerge to protect them right from the start.
Kids aren’t the only beneficiaries of dental sealants — adults can take advantage of them, too. If you have deep grooves and pits in your teeth, sealants can offer the same protection that they do for your children.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dental sealants provide significant cavity protection. Kids ages 6-11 without sealants get cavities three times more often than kids who have sealants.
On average, sealants last about five years, but many last up to 10 years. Some remain intact well into adulthood, and it’s easy to have them reapplied when needed.
If you want to protect your child’s teeth with dental sealants — or your own — contact us online or by phone to schedule an appointment with our board-certified team.