Using a dental sealant can help prevent cavities by making it more difficult for bacteria and plaque to adhere to tooth surfaces. Dental sealants can reduce the need for dental fillings, particularly for young children. Most dentists recommend that permanent molars be treated with dental sealants as soon as they have fully emerged.
Dental sealants are a plastic substance that is painted onto the surfaces of the teeth and then cured with a special light. Sealants can be administered right at the dental office. They are non-invasive and create no discomfort. For children, the most difficult part of the process is sitting still while the sealant is hardened. Some adults get sealants, too, particularly if they have very deep grooves in their molars where food particles and plaque can become trapped.
Your pediatric dentist will probably recommend sealants after your child’s first permanent molars have fully arrived. Molars are more susceptible to decay because of the complex textures on their surfaces. It is easy for food particles to get stuck in the molars, leading to tooth decay. The dental sealants fill in some of the deeper valleys in the teeth and also create a barrier between the enamel and the corrosive plaque.
If your pediatric dentist recommends sealants, the procedure will be done in his office, sometimes as part of a regular appointment. Your child will sit in the dentist chair and the sealants will be painted on the surface of the molars. The sealant is then cured with a special light. This takes a few minutes. The dentist will probably use an appliance to help hold your child’s mouth open. This can be uncomfortable for your child, so he might require some distraction while he waits.
Your dentist will check the sealants at each subsequent appointment to be sure they remain intact. They can be chipped or damaged due to normal wear and tear, and in this case they should be reapplied.
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