Why dental sealants are so good for children’s oral health

Protecting your child’s precious smile is a high priority for every parent. We all know the basics of oral hygiene, but do you know about the role that dental sealants can play as a powerful preventive measure? These thin, yet strong, plastic coatings act as an indispensable shield, offering multiple benefits for your child’s oral health.

In this blog post, we will discuss the importance of dental sealants and how well they work to protect your child’s teeth from tooth decay.

What are dental sealants?

Dental sealants are a remarkable dental innovation designed to provide an extra layer of protection for your child’s teeth. They are thin plastic coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of teeth, primarily targeting the back teeth, including molars and premolars. These areas are particularly susceptible to tooth decay due to their deep grooves and crevices, making them challenging to clean effectively with regular brushing alone.

dental sealants

Protective shield

Dental sealants serve as a physical barrier, preventing food particles, plaque, and bacteria from settling into the teeth’s deep grooves and fissures. Sealing off these vulnerable areas can effectively reduce the risk of tooth decay and cavities.

The sealant’s smooth surface makes it easier for your child to clean their teeth, promoting good oral hygiene. However, dental sealants are designed specifically for preventative purposes and are not meant to substitute regular dental care practices such as brushing, flossing, and regular dental checkups.

The vulnerability of children’s teeth

Children are more prone to tooth decay for several reasons:

Oral hygiene habits: Young children may not have developed proper oral hygiene habits, such as thorough brushing and flossing techniques. This can lead to inadequate removal of plaque and food particles, increasing the risk of tooth decay.

Dietary choices: Children often have a higher consumption of sugary foods and drinks, such as candies, juices, and soda. These sugary substances provide a favourable environment for bacteria in the mouth to produce acids that attack tooth enamel, leading to decay.

Tooth development: Children’s teeth are still developing and maturing. The enamel, which is the protective outer layer of the teeth, may not be as strong or fully mineralized as in adult teeth. This makes them more vulnerable to the corrosive effects of acids produced by bacteria.

Deep grooves and fissures: The back teeth, specifically the molars and premolars, have deep grooves and fissures on their biting surfaces. These areas can trap food particles and bacteria, making them harder to clean effectively with regular brushing alone.

Lack of fluoride exposure: Fluoride is crucial for strengthening tooth enamel and making it more resistant to decay. Children who do not receive adequate fluoride exposure through fluoridated water, toothpaste, or professional treatments may be at a higher risk of tooth decay.

family dental care

Did you know?

Recent data indicate that Australian children aged 5–10 had an average of 1.5 decayed, missing, and filled deciduous teeth, whereas children aged 6–14 had an average of 0.5 decayed, missing, and filled permanent teeth. These statistics highlight the prevalence of tooth decay among young children and the necessity of implementing preventative measures.

Materials and procedures

Dental sealants are typically made of a safe, BPA-free plastic material. The application process is quick, painless, and non-invasive. Here’s how it works:

Cleaning and preparation: The dentist thoroughly cleans the teeth to ensure the surfaces are free from debris or bacteria.

Application: The sealant material is carefully applied to the chewing surfaces of the teeth. It flows into the deep grooves and crevices, effectively sealing them off from food particles and bacteria.

Bonding and hardening: A dental curing light is used to bond and harden the sealant material, creating a strong protective barrier on the tooth surface.

Smooth and invisible: Once the dental sealant has hardened, it becomes a nearly invisible, smooth layer that seamlessly blends with the natural tooth structure.

Painless and non-invasive application

Parents often express concern about potential pain and discomfort during dental procedures. Fortunately, the application of dental sealants is a painless and non-invasive process. This quick and simple procedure does not involve drilling or injections, ensuring a comfortable experience for children. In fact, the entire procedure usually takes only a few minutes and causes your child minimal, if any, discomfort.

Dental sealant application is an ideal preventive measure for children because it is painless and non-invasive. By choosing dental sealants, children can maintain a positive attitude towards dental care while enjoying the advantages of long-lasting cavity protection. This approach promotes a positive dental experience, putting children more at ease during future visits.

Long-term protection

Dental sealants provide lasting protection for your child’s teeth. Sealants can typically last between five and ten years with appropriate care and maintenance. However, routine checkups are necessary to ensure that the sealants are intact and functioning effectively. The dentist will evaluate the condition of the sealants and, if necessary, recommend reapplication.

Cost-effective preventive measure

Prevention is always more cost-effective than treatment in terms of dental care costs. Dental sealants are an excellent example. Sealants are typically less expensive than tooth decay treatments. By investing in dental sealants, you not only secure your child’s teeth from decay, but you may also reduce their future dental costs.

children oral health

When can sealants be used?

The majority of children develop their first permanent molars between the ages of six and seven, followed by their second permanent molars between the ages of 11 and 12. As these molars erupt, they are more susceptible to tooth decay due to their position in the rear of the mouth, which makes them more challenging to clean thoroughly than the front teeth.

To ensure optimal protection, it is essential to maintain regular dental checkups for your child during these crucial periods. As a proactive measure against tooth decay, your dentist will closely monitor the eruption of these molars and recommend the timely application of dental sealants. The sooner sealants are applied after the molars have erupted, the better chance they have of preventing cavities in your child’s teeth.

Importance of regular dental visits

While dental sealants provide valuable protection, they are not an alternative to regular dental cleanings and checkups. Visits to the dentist every 6 to 12 months are essential for optimal oral health. During these visits, the dentist will assess the condition of the sealants, monitor oral health, and promptly resolve any dental concerns or problems.

Parents can provide their children with comprehensive oral health care by combining dental sealants with regular dental visits. In conjunction with professional dental care, sealants provide the best possible protection and support for your child’s oral health.

Furthermore, children aged 5–10 with dental caries in their deciduous teeth were more likely to have visited the dentist for a dental problem (68%) than for a checkup (36%). Similarly, children aged 6–14 with dental caries in their permanent teeth were more likely to have visited the dentist for a dental problem (32%) than for a checkup (22%). These statistics highlight the significance of implementing preventative measures, such as dental sealants, into a proactive approach to oral health.

Oral health and dental care in Australia, Healthy teeth – Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (aihw.gov.au)

By applying dental sealants, we can substantially reduce the risk of tooth decay and the subsequent need for dental treatment. This preventive measure serves as a barrier, protecting your child’s teeth from decay-causing bacteria and food particles. But it’s not just about prevention – it’s about giving your child the best shot at a future full of healthy smiles. Consider the benefits of dental sealants in promoting a lifetime of dental well-being.