Dental Sealants for Kids- What You Need to Know

It might seem odd to have dental procedures done on a child’s teeth. But when it comes to long-term dental health, prevention is the name of the game. By applying dental sealants for kids at a young age, you can set up your child’s smile for success. If you’re looking for a caring pediatric dentist in Vista, look no further than All Smiles Children’s Dentistry. As a trusted San Diego pediatric dentist office, we have the expertise you need to apply this preventative measure, as well as the answers to all your questions about the process!

What are Dental Sealants for Kids?

Dental sealants are thin layers of a safe resin material made specifically for protecting the back teeth (most often the molars) from tooth decay. They keep the enamel safe from acids, protect teeth from the wear and tear of chewing, and fight the formation of cavities in an area that sees 90% of the decay found in adults. Even if your child is an all-star brusher and flosser, the deep ridges in those back teeth can be difficult to clean. Sealants greatly diminish the chances of getting a destructive cavity down the road.

Are Sealants Safe?

Sealants are incredibly safe and are made from resin materials meant to stay in the mouth long term. The CDC has found that children between the ages of six and eleven who do not have sealants have nearly three times more cavities in their first molars. Additionally, the CDC actively works with school sealant programs to provide this service to students across the country. The American Dental Association recommends dental sealants be applied as soon as the first adult molars appear, usually between the ages of five and seven.

What is the Procedure Like?

It’s quick and painless – really! The process consists of cleaning the tooth to clear away any pieces of food or bacteria, applying a gel that is then rinsed with water, drying the tooth off, and then “painting” the sealant as a coating on the tooth. After this, the sealant will be set (oftentimes with a specialized UV light). No poking…no prodding. This process takes only a couple of minutes per tooth and leaves them protected for several years. Occasional touch-ups are necessary if the sealants become chipped or worn away.

Can You See a Sealant?

Dental sealants are clear or lightly tinted, and they can’t be seen when your child opens their mouth or smiles. The only difference your child might notice is that their bite feels just a little bit different after getting the sealant. This is totally normal. It just takes a little bit of time for the sealants to feel natural in the mouth.

Are There Any Special Post-Procedure Protocols?

Nope! Your child can eat or drink right away, and the sealant will be performing its protective job the moment it’s applied.

Do Sealants Impact a Tooth-Cleaning Routine?

Not at all! Your child is free to use their favorite toothpaste, mouthwash, and floss. It’s important to understand that while sealants act as a shield, they aren’t impenetrable. Cavities can still form between teeth, even if those teeth have sealants, because the sealants protect those top grooves, not the tiny spaces down at the gum line. Flossing and brushing are still just as important as always in maintaining a healthy smile.

Does My Child Need Sealants on Their Baby Teeth?

This is generally decided on a case-by-case basis. While sealants are highly recommended on permanent teeth (as soon as those molars set in), it is possible that baby teeth need sealants, even if they’re going to be making an exit quite soon. Why? Baby teeth set the stage for adult teeth. Ensuring baby teeth remain cavity-free and strong is the best way to ensure adult teeth come in healthy and problem-free. If your child’s teeth are cavity-prone, sealants on their baby teeth might be the way to go. Your dentist can help you decide the best path for your child.

How Much Does It Cost?

Dental sealants are affordable! Ranging from about $40-$60 each, dental sealants fall under the “preventative measures” categories for most dental insurance plans, making them a great alternative to expensive cavity fillings, possible root canals, or even tooth replacements in the future. As an incredible time and money saver, sealants are the ideal option for spending less time in the dentist’s chair.

Why Haven’t I Heard of This Before?

It’s important to know that there are critics of providing sealants for kids. While sealants do not contain BPA, they do contain chemicals that can turn into BPA when in contact with saliva, meaning sealants must be placed perfectly and with care. However, the ADA does hold the stance that the benefits of children’s sealants far outweigh the risks. Some dental professionals argue that children do not need sealants until decay is evident in the teeth, while others uphold the idea that prevention is the best way to stop decay from occurring in the first place. Additionally, the most at-risk children for dental decay (and theoretically the best candidates for preventative sealants) are children without regular access to dental care.

Many children do not have sealants because dentists need specialized training to apply them to ensure that they do their intended job, as a badly placed sealant can contribute to tooth decay instead of fighting it. As your top pediatric dentist in San Diego, you can trust that your child’s sealants are done by trained, capable hands. We have an extensive understanding of the application process and the benefits of sealants. We know that dental sealants for kids not only work today, but also protect their smile for the future.

If you’re interested in learning about whether your child is at risk for tooth decay or could benefit from dental sealants, let our friendly team at All Smiles Children’s Dentistry help you out. Come visit us today or contact us online to start your child on their journey to a healthy smile!

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