Sealants are an excellent way of protecting the chewing surfaces of your child’s teeth that have never had a filling and do not have decay. It is a white or sometimes clear material that is placed on the chewing surfaces of your child’s back teeth, the molar. It is typically applied on the permanent molar as it first appears, around age seven. Sealants protect your child’s teeth from decay by acting as a physical barrier and protecting enamel from plaque and acids. The purpose of the sealant is to smooth out the normal ridges and crevices of your child’s back teeth where plaque and bacteria accumulate.
Sealants fill up these grooves and allow food to slide off the tooth surface. Combined with fluoridated water and topical fluorides (mouth rinses & tooth-paste), sealants virtually eliminate decay on the chewing surfaces of your child’s teeth. The American Dental Association’s latest studies indicate that children who have had sealants applied to their teeth had a 6% cavity rate on the chewing surfaces of these teeth. Those children without sealants had a 59% cavity rate.
No “shots” are necessary when sealants are placed on your child’s tooth. To apply a sealant, the operator cleans each tooth then etches it with a mild acid wash to give the sealant a rougher enamel surface bond with. The plastic coating is then applied and cured with a special light. The procedure is quick and comfortable and takes only one visit. Your child will be able to eat right after the appointment.
Sealants are not a guarantee against decay. Sealants can only prevent decay on the chewing surface of your child’s tooth, not in the area between teeth. Sealants protect the chewing surfaces of your child’s back molars where decay occurs most often. It is very important that your child continues to brush and floss every. The integrity of a sealant depends on a child’s chewing, eating, and grinding habits. Typically, sealants are replaced after three to five years as the borders of the sealant may be weakened by this time. During your regular six month check-up, Dr. Kao will evaluate the condition of the sealants and reapply as necessary.