Kids and candy; they seem to go together. One thing parents are concerned about with candy is dental caries, also known as ‘cavities’. While brushing with a good fluoride toothpaste takes care of most of the sugar left on the teeth, a small amount may remain in the deep fissures of the molars and premolars. The sugar that remains in the fissures will eventually develop into a cavity.

Combating Cavities

The best way to keep a good clean set of teeth is to not get a cavity. This is rare, however. Preventing cavities is combative effort that consists of:

• Brushing
• Flossing
• Covering the deep fissures that make cleaning difficult with a sealant.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), “dental sealants are recognized as an effective approach to preventing pit and fissure caries in children” (2015, http://www.ada.org/).

What is a Sealant

Sealants consist of a thin coating that is bonded to the biting surface of the teeth. Sealants are placed on the biting surface of molar and premolar teeth. This material prevents food and sugars from remaining in those hard to reach areas. After sealants are placed, brushing can quickly clear the teeth of substances that can help to cause cavities.

Why have Sealants Placed

If a molar has a deep fissure, a cavity can occur. The process to correct a cavity consists of anesthesia (or a novicaine-type of numbing medication) and drilling to remove decay. Then another material is placed to fill the space left by the cavity. This can be a traumatic and costly procedure. Sealants, however, are less costly and extremely less traumatic. There is no need to have the area numbed prior to placing a sealant, the material is placed and then bonded to the tooth.
Placing a sealant over the biting surface of a tooth is a step toward preventing decay and cavities. Prevention is the key, however, and the best time have sealants placed is “as soon as these teeth come in” (http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/dental-sealants). Sealants can also be placed any time a dental professional examines the surface of molars and determines that the fissures are too deep to adequately clean.

Does your child need sealants again?

Sealants can last for years. According to the ADA, sealants can last upwards of ten years and are easy to replace if they become chipped or cracked. During regular checkups, the dentist or hygienist will check the status of the sealants in place. If they are found to be faulty in any way, new sealant material is simply placed again to insure no decay will result. While dental insurance may or may not cover the sealant replacement, the satisfaction of knowing that this preventative measure may help your child to remain cavity free is priceless.

Conclusion

Having sealants placed on molars and premolars is step in the right direction to preventing decay and cavities. It is important to remember, however, to have them checked regularly to make sure they are intact and to have them replaced if they are faulty in any way. Our goal is to remain cavity free!