Many parents worry about their children’s teeth developing cavities. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the risk of childhood tooth decay. Besides teaching your child to brush and floss correctly every day, dental sealants are a powerful tool to prevent cavities.
Protect Your Child’s Teeth from Bacteria
Due to inadequate oral hygiene and too much sugar, 40% of children have cavities by the time they start school. Our mouths contain bacteria that consume leftover sugar on our teeth and leave behind acid. The acid causes tooth enamel to decay, which can lead to cavities.
Helping your child form good oral hygiene habits at a young age can help prevent this. Brushing, flossing, and reducing sugar consumption will limit the destruction caused by oral bacteria. However, even with good oral health practices, bacteria can hide in the crevices of our teeth. Keep in mind that children may not have the coordination to brush effectively and clean out these crevices, which is where dental sealants come in.
Dental Sealants Explained
Dental sealants are a layer of thin, clear plastic that dentists apply to the chewing surfaces of teeth. This “seals” them off from the bacteria and plaque that cause cavities. Dental sealants have been popular since the 1960s because they’re highly effective, reducing the risk of tooth decay on children’s back teeth by as much as 80%. Sealants are also painless and can be applied quickly during a routine checkup.
Dentists usually apply sealants to the molars, which have deep crevices that hold bacteria. Molars also do most of our chewing, so they are exposed to more food and sugar. Sealants cover and fill in the crevices in molars, protecting them from bacteria.
When Should Your Child Get Sealants?
Dentists typically recommend sealants as soon as your child’s permanent molars come in, usually around six years old. The sooner sealants are applied, the less time oral bacteria has to build up on your child’s teeth. But sealants are still beneficial at any age, including for older children and adults.
Ask About Sealants at Your Child’s Next Checkup
If you haven’t already, be sure to schedule an appointment for your child’s cleaning and checkup every six months. This is a great time to discuss concerns like sealants, brushing and flossing habits, or how their diet is affecting their oral health. We want to set your child up for good dental health for life!