During the month of October, there is usually only one thing on a kid’s mind – Halloween! What could be more fun than picking out the perfect costume and going trick-or-treating with friends? Eating candy, or course!
Kids aren’t the only ones who love candy. Bacteria inside the mouth love it too. This bacteria feeds on sugar and produces acid, which can cause holes in the tooth’s enamel. These holes are also known as cavities. If left untreated, they can lead to tooth decay.
Regular brushing and flossing are the best ways to prevent cavities. However, there is a third way to keep teeth healthy – dental sealants. Here are the top three things you should know about dental sealants.
- Dental sealants are a thin, protective coating that adheres to the chewing surface of your teeth.
They are usually applied to the back teeth, or molars, and quickly bond into the depressions and grooves of the teeth, forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth. It’s not a substitute for brushing or flossing, but rather an added layer of protection against cavities. In fact, The American Dental Association cites that dental sealants have been shown to reduce the risk of tooth decay by nearly 80%.
2. Sealants are recommended for children as soon as their molars or premolars come in.
This typically includes children between the ages of 6-14 years, when teeth are more prone to cavities. The sealants can last for several years, but your dentist or hygienist will examine the sealant during regular checkups to make sure the sealant hasn’t become damaged. Adults without decay or fillings in their molars can also benefit from sealants.
3. Applying a sealant is a quick and painless process.
First, the teeth need to be thoroughly cleaned. Then each tooth is dried. The dentist or hygienist may wrap cotton around the tooth to ensure it stays dry during the process.
An acid solution is applied on the chewing surfaces of the teeth to give the sealant something to adhere to. The teeth are then rinsed and dried again, and then sealant is painted directly onto the tooth enamel. A special curing light is used to help the sealant harden quickly. That’s it!
Food or activities that can damage teeth, such as crunching ice or hard candy, can also damage the sealant. Likewise, sticky or chewy candy such as taffy or caramels, can pull the sealant off, so be sure to avoid them. Other than that, the sealant won’t interfere with any of your child’s favorite activities, such as talking, smiling, eating or laughing.
Pediatric Dental Associates of Alabama is led by top-rated pediatric dentists with locations in Birmingham, Cullman, Medplex-Hoover, Oxford and Pell City. When looking for your child’s dentist, know that we aspire to be the premier provider of pediatric dental services in Alabama. Beautiful smiles are our specialty!