Good oral hygiene habits are your first line of defense against tooth decay. However, teeth are tricky. Their irregular shapes can make it difficult to get every little nook and cranny clean. Molars, in particular, are especially prone to buildup and bacteria as they are your main “chewers,” in the very back of your mouth, and the most unevenly shaped.
A great way to give molars an added layer of protection against cavities is a sealant. This thin, protective layer of plastic or other dental materials adheres to the molars’ chewing surfaces and helps prevent food particles and bacteria from lodging in all those little crevices. Sealants help prevent cavities from forming, and have been shown to reduce the risk of decay by almost 80% (but are no substitute for regular brushing and flossing!).
Children are recommended to get dental sealants when their permanent molars are fully erupted. Teenagers and adults who don’t have tooth decay may get sealants as well to help them prevent future cavities.
Less Cavities for Children’s Teeth
According to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control in October 2016,
“school-age children without sealants have almost three times more cavities than children with sealants.”
It’s estimated that 80% of the tooth decay that children have occur in the pits and fissures of the teeth. These are the areas of the teeth that the sealants are placed on, thereby reducing the number of cavities that form in these areas.
Generally, dental sealants should be applied to your children’s teeth shortly after their permanent teeth erupt. This is typically between the ages of five and seven years old. The procedure is done at our Cary dental office by the same friendly staff that your child already knows from previous appointments.
Raincoats for Teeth
At any given moment, a mouth is full of bacteria that, when combined with food/drink particles, can produce acids that create holes in teeth – a.k.a. cavities. Sealants help keep food particles and bacteria from settling into your teeth just as a raincoat keeps you dry in a storm.
Sealants are a very quick and completely painless procedure. After cleaning and drying your tooth, your dentist will “paint” an acidic gel onto its surface to “rough it up” and create greater surface area for the sealant to adhere (again, this is a painless). Your tooth will be rinsed and dried again, and then the sealant will be applied. A special blue light is used to harden and set the sealant.
Sealants can be used preventatively before cavities form. They typically last for several years before they need to be reapplied. Your dentist will check your sealants during your regular bi-annual check-ups.
Some dental plans even cover the procedure, so make sure to check with your provider. Even if it is not a covered service, sealant application is generally a considerably less expensive treatment than fillings and other decay-repairing procedures, and definitely worth considering as a long-term cost-saver.
Beavers Dentistry has you Covered
From regular check-ups to sealant application and anything in between, Beavers Dentistry is here to help! Our Cary-based family dental practice is always accepting new patients; contact us today with any questions or to schedule an appointment.