(843) 971-6221

What Are Dental Sealants?

children holding dental teaching aids

Children are notoriously bad about adequately brushing their teeth, particularly those molars in the back. Parents often wish there were a way to protect the newly-emerged adult teeth until their children are old enough to adequately protect their own oral health. Dental sealants are the answer these parents are looking for.

Dental sealants are plastic coatings placed on the chewing surface of the back teeth to protect them from decay. Just as you might add a protective finish to a wood table, a wax to protect the paint of your car, or a screen protector to your phone, sealants are a safe way to guard against cavities in your children’s teeth.

Why Do We Use Dental Sealants?

The molars and premolars (the back teeth) have rough, uneven fissures in them that can be hard to clean properly. Bacteria and plaque can easily build up in these areas, so without protection many children will develop cavities in their back teeth. When used on these back teeth, dental sealants have been shown to reduce cavities by as much as 80 percent. Children with sealants are three times less likely to develop cavities in their first molars than their non-sealed peers, so it’s a very inexpensive investment with a big return.

What Do Dental Sealants Do?

When sugars, bacteria, and leftover food particles aren’t properly cleaned from teeth, they react to form an acid that eats away at the structure of the tooth. As I stated earlier, molars are especially susceptible due to fissures that can be difficult to clean. A sealant on the surface of these teeth simply keeps food particles and bacteria from settling in these areas. It protects baby teeth that are at risk, and if a tooth already has a small cavity, a sealant can prevent its condition from worsening.

Should My Child Get Dental Sealants?

Molars usually begin erupting by age six, with the second set arriving around age 12 or 13. Dentists generally advise that children get sealants on their permanent molars as soon as they come in. Depending on how the premolars look, we might recommend sealing those as well. Sealants will last for up to 10 years and can be touched up or reapplied if needed.

How Are Dental Sealants Applied?

This is a procedure that children need not fear, as it is quick and painless. A gel primer is applied to the (dried) tooth; it will help the sealant form a strong bond. After a quick rinse, the sealant is applied directly, typically only on the chewing surface. Setting the sealant is as simple as shining our special blue light for a few seconds, and then it will cure in moments. The light is a blue LED that can’t harm you in any way.

Dr. Randy Is Mount Pleasant’s Dental Sealant Expert

Curing sealant with light

The American Dental Association recommends that kids receive sealants as soon as their adult teeth come in, yet too many children don’t get them. Dental sealants are a great investment in your children’s health, in addition to being a great financial decision, as the cost of protecting your child’s teeth is significantly less than the cost of fixing them.

If you’d like to find out if dental sealants are the right decision for your child, we can help.