Dental Sealants And When They Should Be Applied

Your child's baby teeth start to develop long before birth. Once they erupt, the tiny primary teeth serve an important purpose as they maintain the space necessary for the child's underlying permanent teeth to present in a straight configuration. Additionally, the baby teeth are needed for proper speech development and adequate nutrition.

When the baby teeth are lost before their scheduled time to shed, the gaps along the gum line can make it difficult for your child to speak clearly. The tongue needs the border of the teeth to form certain consonant sounds. In addition, your child may be unable to comfortably eat crunchy foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, limiting their nutritional intake.

There are multiple ways that a dentist can help protect your child's baby teeth from decay and early loss. One of these ways is the application of dental sealants.

Here is a bit of information about sealants and when they should be applied.

What Are Sealants?

Dental sealants are plastic barriers that shield the teeth from exposure to bacterial acids that cause decay. They are typically applied to the bumpy chewing surfaces of the molars and to baby teeth that are particularly susceptible to decay.

During the application of the sealants, the dentist cleans the teeth and then applies a bit of etching material that helps the sealants to adhere to the tooth material. Next, the dentist applies the sealant product, which is a white liquid resin material. The sealant is applied as a liquid, so it can pool in the cracks of the chewing surfaces, smoothing some of the crevices where plaque can accumulate. Once the sealants are in place, the dentist exposes them to a special light that hardens the material.

When Should Sealants Be Applied?

Dentists usually apply sealants after a child's molars erupt. The molars are permanent teeth and are often present when the child is around the age of six. The child may receive more sealants during their preteen years when the second molars typically present.

How Long Do the Sealants Last?

Sealants generally last for years. However, the plastic coatings can become damaged.

If the sealants are damaged, the dentist can simply reapply the plastic barriers. The application of the sealants is performed quickly and requires no anesthesia since the application is painless.

To learn more about dental sealants and their benefits, schedule a consultation with a family dentist in your local area.