Everything You Need To Know About Dental Sealants In Children

When we recommend a dental treatment to you or your child,  our goal is to make sure that you truly understand everything about the procedure – because ultimately – the decision to do it or not is completely up to you.  Knowing why the treatment is needed, what it entails, what the benefits of getting it are, and the risks of not having it done, are all things that our Newport Beach dentist will want to review with you.

For instance, during a routine check-up we may see that some of your or your child’s teeth can benefit from dental sealants.  If that’s the case, here’s everything you need to know about this common procedure. That way you can make a well-educated decision on whether you’d like to proceed with letting your child get sealants or not. 

What Is A Dental Sealant and Why Is It Recommended?

In short, a dental sealant is a thin, tooth-colored, plastic-like coating that is placed over the biting surface of back teeth.

In children, when molars (back teeth) first erupt, they have deep pits and grooves on the biting surface.  These areas easily attract plaque and bacteria buildup. Cleaning these hard to reach areas can be impossible, even for diligent parents. As a result, bacteria can settle on these  and cavities start to form.

A dental sealant is a preventative aid that’s used to fill in these pits and grooves, making the biting surface of the tooth smoother and more level. Doing so attracts less plaque and food debris, making these teeth easier to clean and minimizing the chances of developing tooth decay.

Are Dental Sealants In Children Necessary?

A preventative treatment is defined as a procedure that’s performed to prevent ill-effects from occurring. As such, having a sealant placed isn’t a do or die situation.  It’s merely a suggestion that is made by your dentist to help decrease the chances of a tooth developing decay later on.  In fact, the American Dental Association (ADA) states that sealants on permanent molars reduce the risk of decay by 80%, so most patients find that this preventative service is well worth it.

After years of use, it’s normal for teeth with deep grooves and pits to wear down and become flatter. However, when deciding whether or not to have sealants placed, you should consider if you’re willing to risk the chances of developing decay in the meantime. Especially for a child, who may not be as dedicated at cleaning their teeth.

The Dental Sealant Procedure

The dental sealant process is fast, easy, and pain-free. First, the tooth is scrubbed clean and prepped with a special conditioning gel. Then a bonding agent is dabbed onto the tooth. Afterward, the sealant material is inserted into the crevices of the tooth, which hardens and sticks when we shine a special light over the area to cure it.

Depending on how many teeth need to be sealed, the above process may need to be repeated more than once.

How Does A Sealant Differ From A Filling?

A dental filling is a restorative procedure that’s used when there is a cavity in the tooth that needs to be removed.  This treatment  requires anesthesia so that you don’t feel any pain, and a drill to remove the cavity. Dental sealants in children aren’t “fixing” anything, so no needles or loud drills are necessary.

The Life of A Dental Sealant

Most sealants will hold up pretty well and last as long as they need to.  Once the tooth has grown in enough and has worn to the point where it doesn’t have deep grooves and pits, the sealant is no longer necessary. However, we won’t remove a sealant, we’ll just let is fall out on its own when the time comes. If a sealant falls out prematurely, it will need to be replaced. During your child’s routine dental visits, we’ll examine each tooth and its sealant to see how they’re holding up. 

The Controversy Behind Dental Sealant

Studies have shown that some dental sealant materials contribute to a very low-level bisphenol A (BPA) exposure, deterring some people from getting the procedure done. According to the ADA, BPA exposure in dental sealants only lasts for a few hours after placement, and they state that the reward outweighs the risk. In fact, breathing air exposes you to BPA 100% times more than dental sealants do.

Dental Sealants in Newport Beach

When you bring your child in for a routine dental cleaning, Dr. Yazdan (our Newport Beach dentist) will examine their teeth to see if sealants are recommended. You can trust that we have the best interest of your child in mind and will only ever suggest preventative care that is truly beneficial to their well-being.

If at any time you feel apprehensive or have questions that you would like answered, don’t hesitate to let us know.  We enjoy teaching our patients about their smile’s health, and look forward to speaking with you. Give us a call today

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