When your child's first molars come through, they can be prone to decay, as they have fissures on the chewing surfaces. These are narrow grooves or depressions that the bristles of a toothbrush can't quite reach, but bacteria can get into the fissures and cause decay. Additionally, young children aren't typically proficient at brushing their own teeth and don't always let you clean them as thoroughly as you'd like. To help protect your child's teeth from cavities, your dentist can apply a sealant. Here's an overview of dental sealants and the application procedure:
Dental Sealants Explained
Dental sealants fill in fissures and provide a long-lasting protective coating over the biting surfaces of your child's teeth. The sealants are colourless, odourless and composed of synthetic resins. The resins are BPA-free and can stay on your child's teeth for several years. When the sealant is applied to the teeth it partially penetrates the enamel to create a strong bond. It gradually wears down, so there's no need for your child to visit the dentist to have the sealant removed. During each dental exam, your dentist will check the sealant has not been chipped and can repair any damaged areas, as necessary.
Applying A Sealant
Applying a sealant to your child's teeth is simple and painless. The teeth will be cleaned by the dentist and dried with cotton and cold air. The sealant is in liquid form and is painted onto each tooth with a soft brush. Contact with the air and the use of a dental curing light ensures the sealant is dry and hard within a few minutes, but your child won't be aware of the coating on their teeth as it is smooth and very fine. Once the sealant has been applied, your child can eat and drink as normal, and their teeth can be brushed with a standard brush and toothpaste.
Sealants are best applied as soon as your child's molars erupt, but they can also be used to protect teeth that have already been exposed to bacteria and those that have small cavities. Cavities won't worsen when covered with a sealant as decay-causing bacteria won't be able to get into the cavity. If your child chips the enamel on a tooth, a sealant can also be applied to protect the tooth pulp and prevent infection.
If you're interested in using dental sealants to protect your child's teeth, a dentist will be happy to answer any questions you have. You can discuss sealants at your child's next dental check-up, or you can schedule an appointment as soon as their molars break through to ensure they are protected right away.