How Do Dental Sealants Prevent Child Tooth Decay?

Sealants-Prevent-Tooth-DecayAs mentioned in previous articles, tooth decay is extremely common in children. In fact, it is the number one chronic childhood disease. Decay can happen for a number of reasons, including poor hygiene, consumption of too many sugary foods and drinks, and a lack of routine visits to the dental office. The good news is that tooth decay can be easily prevented. One of the best ways to prevent cavities and decay is by having your dentist apply sealants to your child’s teeth.

A dental sealant is a plastic coating that is applied to the chewing surfaces of the teeth in the back of the mouth (premolars and molars). These are the teeth that are most prone to decay. The sealant acts as a barrier between the teeth and any food or beverage it comes in contact with. Sugars and carbohydrates fuel tooth decay, so the sealant helps in preventing sugary foods from getting stuck in the grooves of the teeth.

The process to apply sealants is quick and easy:

  • First, your dentist or hygienist will prepare the teeth for sealants by thoroughly cleaning them
  • The sealant material is then painted directly onto the tooth enamel of each premolar and molar
  • The sealant bonds and hardens to the tooth’s surface with the help of a special curating light

Sealants can typically last for up to 10 years, but can be easily replaced if they were to be chipped or worn down. Your dentist will check for this at every appointment and replace them as needed.

Children as young as 6 years of age are great candidates for dental sealants, as it is beneficial to have them applied to permanent molars as soon as they grow in. In many cases, your dentist might suggest sealants for baby teeth as well as permanent teeth. This helps in keeping your child’s mouth healthy as he or she develops and can prevent baby teeth from falling out too early.

It’s a good idea to begin preventing tooth decay as early as possible. Schedule routine check-ups for your child as soon as their baby teeth start growing in, and ask your dentist about how soon your child might be ready for dental sealants.

About the Author

I am a family dentist who treats children as well as adults. Making smiles people love, extreme makeovers and complex dental reconstruction is our niche including implants, TMJ, orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry. As a participant in the blog, I will be offering dental perspectives on pediatric safety and health care options on a regular basis. I can be reached at Blessings to all! Dr Williams is a member of the PedSafe Expert team


9 Responses to “How Do Dental Sealants Prevent Child Tooth Decay?”

  1. Cynthia Rose says:

    The idea of placing some sort of sealant on a tooth is very intriguing. I have been trying to increase my awareness of tooth decay for myself, as well as for my children’s teeth in order to preserve our teeth over time. I feel that if we have the resources, we should use them.
    Cynthia |

    • Cynthia, your thoughts are wise. Prevention now and for a lifetime mean that you avoid tens of thousands of dollars of needless dental expense for your family and a lot of potential trauma. Sealants and fluoride are two things that can cut dental disease in half if not more. Regular checkups to catch things when small also matters. Good plaque removal, sensible dietary habits and use of Xylitol gum and Probiotics like Evora Pro also make a lot of sense.

  2. Delores Lyon says:

    Thanks for sharing this information on dental sealants. I had no idea that they could be used to prevent cavities for up to ten years! That is a really beneficial procedure, especially if it can help ensure that your children won’t suffer from cavities. In fact, I’m already considering sealants for my eight year old son!

    • Stefanie Zucker Stefanie Zucker says:

      Thanks so much for letting us know this information was helpful. We appreciate knowing when we’ve made a difference…and we’re grateful you took the time to tell us!

  3. My cousin had a lot of cavities when he was younger due to drinking tons of soda, eating candy, and not going to the dentist. Getting a sealant may have helped him. As you mentioned sealants can last up to 10 years and that would have saved him from quite a few cavities. I will have to look into sealants when I have my own kids.

  4. I believe this is the first time that I’ve heard that you can apply sealants to children’s teeth to prevent tooth decay. My son seems to get cavities pretty frequently, so that may be something I should look into a little bit more. Hopefully we won’t have to worry about those cavities so much after getting that done!

    • Stefanie Zucker Stefanie Zucker says:

      I wish I knew that when I was younger! Might have saved me from a lot of expensive dental work when I grew up. Thanks McKayla for stopping by! 🙂

  5. New Zealand dental conferences says:

    Learning about various things on dental stuff gives us more insight and knowledge on how out dentists deals with our problems.

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