Monday, May 23, 2011

Does My Child Need Sealants?

Protecting Your Teeth

Our teeth are constantly being covered with a sticky film of bacteria called plaque. When we eat or drink anything that contains sugar or starch, bacteria turn the sugar and starch into acids that attack tooth enamel.  One of the most common places that tooth decay develops is on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, called premolars and molars. These back teeth contain grooves and indentations called pits and fissures. Regular brushing and flossing helps remove the food and bacteria on our teeth. However, pits and fissures are difficult to keep clean. Our toothbrush is unable to reach into these tiny grooves. Because these pits and fissures are difficult to keep clean, we may recommend placing dental sealants.

What Are Dental Sealants?

Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings that are applied to the grooves on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to protect them from tooth decay. Most tooth decay in children and teens occurs on these surfaces. Sealants protect the chewing surfaces from tooth decay by keeping germs and food particles out of these grooves.

Which Teeth Should Be Sealed?

Permanent molars are the most likely to benefit from sealants. The first molars usually come into the mouth when a child is about 6 years old. Second molars appear at about age 12. It is best if the sealant is applied soon after the teeth have erupted, before they have a chance to decay.

Applying Sealants

Applying sealants does not require drilling or removing tooth structure. The process is short and easy. After the tooth is cleaned, a special gel is placed on the chewing surface for a few seconds. The tooth is then washed off and dried. Then, the sealant is painted on the tooth. The dentist also may shine a light on the tooth to help harden the sealant. It takes about a minute for the sealant to form a protective shield.

Follow Up

As long as the sealant remains intact, the tooth’s chewing surface will be protected from decay. During a regular dental checkup, we will check the condition of the sealants and touch up as necessary. Call us today at 920-725-0400 or visit our website at to find out more information or to schedule an appointment. We’d be happy to assist you and your family.

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