The most likely location for a cavity to develop in your child's mouth is on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. In order to protect these areas of the teeth, Children’s Dentistry of DuPont recommends utilizing dental sealants. These invisible plastic resin coatings smooth out the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, making them resistant to decay. As a result, your child will have a much lower chance of developing painful cavities, which may require more expensive dental treatment later on.
The Reasons for Sealants
Problems With Pits & Fissures
A toothbrush is often unable to clean the grooves in teeth, so it is no wonder why the uneven surfaces on back teeth are prone to cavities. By simply running your tongue along this area of your mouth, you will detect the inconvenient truth. These surfaces are filled with tiny grooves referred to as “pits and fissures,” which trap bacteria and food particles that the bristles on your toothbrush can't always reach. As such, within the confines of these dark, moist little crevices, the perfect conditions for tooth decay exist.
Your child’s newly erupted permanent teeth are not as resistant to decay as adult teeth are. The hard enamel coating that protects the teeth changes as it ages, becoming stronger over time. Fluoride strengthens enamel and is found in toothpaste, some drinking water, and in treatments we utilize at our DuPont, WA pediatric dentistry practice. But, again, it is hard to get fluoride into those pits and fissures on a regular basis.
Dental Sealants – Step by Step.
How Sealants Are Placed
Since tooth enamel does not contain any nerves, placing a sealant is painless and does not require numbing shots. You can think of a sealant as a mini plastic filling, though please reassure your child that it does not “count” as having a cavity filled.
Before Dr. Takenaka (your local DuPont and JBLM pediatric dentist) places a sealant, she will first examine the specified tooth or teeth. If any minimal decay is found, it will be gently removed at that time. Once the tooth is properly cleaned and dried, Dr. Takenaka will apply a solution that will slightly roughen or “etch” the surface of the tooth to make the sealing material adhere better.
The tooth is then rinsed and dried again. Finally, the sealant is painted on the tooth in liquid form, where it hardens with the help of a special curing light. And that’s all there is to it!
A Note About BPA
A 2012 study that received wide press coverage raised concerns that trace amounts of the chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) found in some (but not all) dental resins might contribute to behavioral problems in children. The study authors noted that while they had found an association, they did not actually prove that BPA in dental sealants causes these problems. In fact, BPA is far more prevalent in food and beverage packaging than in dental restorative materials. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association have since reaffirmed their support for the use of sealants. Should you have any additional questions regarding this issue, we would be happy to address them.
Taking Care of Sealants
Sealed teeth require the same conscientious dental hygiene routine as unsealed teeth. Your child should continue to brush and floss his or her teeth daily and visit us at our DuPont, WA pediatric dentist office for regular professional cleanings. This will give Dr. Takenaka a chance to check for wear and tear on the sealants, which can last up to 10 years.
Protect Your Child’s Teeth Today
Dental sealants are a great, painless form of preventative treatment proven to reduce decay by more than 70%. To learn more about dental sealants, or to book an appointment with Children’s Dentistry of DuPont, contact us today. From Lacey and Olympia to Yelm and Steilacoom, we help children in and around the DuPont, WA community smile brighter every day.
Call Children's Dentistry of DuPont at (253) 964-0150 for more information.