In addition to brushing and flossing twice a day, you can also take extra steps to protect your child’s teeth. The molar teeth are most susceptible to cavities for two reasons. First, the chewing surface has more pits and fissures than the rest of the teeth, which can make it more difficult for toothbrush bristles to clean the chewing surface. Second, the majority of chewing is done with your molars, increasing the chances of food and bacteria getting stuck and causing decay.
Placing sealants on the teeth is a quick and painless procedure, and provides extra defense against cavity causing bacteria, and acidic food and liquid that can break down enamel over time. There is no drilling, grinding, or removal of any part of the tooth structure. First, the tooth or teeth to be sealed are examined, and if any minimal decay is found, it will be gently removed. The tooth will then be cleaned and dried. Then a solution that will slightly roughen or “etch” the surface is applied, to make the sealing material adhere better. The tooth is then rinsed and dried again. The sealant is then painted on the tooth in liquid form and hardens in about a minute, sometimes with the help of a special curing light. That's all there is to it! Sealant lasts for five to ten years, and are checked by the dentist at your child’s routine dental care appointment.
A report published in July, 2017 by the Cochrane Collaboration, a group that studies and analyzes health information, found that the prevalence of cavities was reduced by 51% in children whose teeth were treated with sealants. Dr. Joel Berg, Dean of the School of Dentistry at University of Washington, also points out that applying a sealant can also prevent adulthood dental health problems. Fillings, no matter how well placed, will eventually fail. If we can stop the decay that causes cavities from the beginning, with sealants, we can help improve the future dental health of our children.