Prevention is key
Regular dental visits and good home care (brushing and flossing) help prevent many dental problems before they start. To further protect against dental problems, we also offer dental sealants for teeth that are the most susceptible to decay. Especially when used with fluoride treatments, dental sealants help protect teeth against cavity formation.
Dental sealants are plastic coatings that dentists or hygienists apply to molars. Molars are the teeth in the back of our mouth used to chew. They have a broader, flatter surface than the teeth in the front of your mouth, and include cusps and valleys. Because of their location and function, molars are the teeth most susceptible to cavity formation, especially if not properly cleaned.
In our office, we typically apply sealants on 6 year molars (most children have these molars by age 6) and 12 year molars. All of these molars are permanent, and the sooner they are sealed, the better. An article at Mouth Healthy, a website maintained by the American Dental Association (ADA), explains why sealants are important. The following quote from this article summarizes why we advocate using dental sealants:
… sealants have been shown to reduce the risk of decay by nearly 80% in molars. This is especially important when it comes to your child’s dental health. In October 2016, the Centers for Disease Control released a report on the importance of sealants for school-aged children, of which only 43% of children ages 6-11 have. According to the CDC, “school-age children without sealants have almost three times more cavities than children with sealants.”
Over time, sealants wear down or come off, but with proper care, we expect most sealants to last into late childhood. Sometimes, if sealants come off, we recommend that they be replaced. In combination with fluoride treatments, sealants provide important protection for our teeth. Prevention is key!