Dental Sealants – Help kids stay away from caviities
One of the procedures used in pediatric dentistry with the aim of preventing the appearance and development of oral diseases is the placement of dental sealants. This is because in children it is always preferable to approach the dental consultation from a preventive rather than curative approach, since the first one is less traumatic and invasive.
Therefore, if the prevention of dental diseases is a fundamental element, especially those that compromise the development and integrity of permanent teeth, we must instill in children from a very early age the habit of visiting the dentist periodically so that they can maintain good oral health.
What are Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are a thin layer that is placed on the chewing surface -also called occlusal- of the upper and lower posterior teeth, which correspond to the premolars and molars.
They are made of resin materials that have a light or whitish shade and are very similar to the natural color of the tooth surface, so they go unnoticed and are not easily visible when speaking.
When they are placed on the tooth they modify its chewing surface helping to protect it from tooth decay, this occurs in the following way:
First of all, we must keep in mind that the occlusal surface of the posterior teeth consists of grooves and pits, which depending on their shape and depth can be difficult to brush preventing the bristles of the toothbrush from penetrating properly. This can lead to the accumulation of food debris and the proliferation of bacteria.
Bacteria in the area feed on the accumulated food debris and ferment the sugars consumed, producing acids that attack and weaken tooth enamel, which can progress and lead to the formation of tooth decay. Therefore, applying a dental sealant prevents the penetration of food debris and the accumulation of bacteria on the tooth surface.
When dental sealants are placed, they make the chewing surface of the teeth smooth, which means that it is free of deep and retentive areas that favor the accumulation of dental plaque and food.
As their name indicates, they provide a mechanical barrier that “seals” the teeth from the bacteria that cause cavities, which translates into a reduction of the risk of developing this disease. In turn, this protective barrier facilitates tooth brushing, which in turn favors oral hygiene in children.
As adults we must take into account that tooth decay is a public health problem increasingly present among people, so it is of great importance to implement among children methods to prevent its development. And that is why in recent years, dentistry has opted to focus mainly on the preventive approach, since it will always be better to avoid the establishment of the disease than having to cure it and slow its progress with more invasive treatments.
In which cases are indicated?
Dental sealants are indicated to be used in permanent premolars and molars that have already erupted beyond the gum margin in which there is a deep and retentive groove or fissure.
They are also applied in the primary or deciduous molars recently erupted, but they are mainly placed in the first permanent molar since it is the first permanent tooth to erupt (it does so behind the primary molars at approximately 6 years of age) and therefore it is the one that is most affected by the action of bacterial acids for the longest time.
These are placed in those children that due to certain characteristics (anatomy of the teeth, eating habits and oral hygiene) present an increased risk of developing tooth decay, but they are not placed in those teeth that already present cavities.
How are they placed?
Before placing the dental sealants, the dentist must perform a prophylaxis, which is a cleaning with a special paste and a rotating toothbrush instrument to ensure that the teeth are clean and free of food debris or other contaminants.
After this, the tooth is isolated with a rubber dam held by a clamp so that it remains dry and out of reach of saliva, and then proceed to the placement of an acid solution that creates microporosities on the occlusal surface of the tooth and facilitates the penetration and adhesion of the dental sealant. This solution is only left for a few seconds and then rinsed with water and dried.
Finally, with the tooth well dry, the dental sealant is applied over the area of the fissure and it proceeds to harden by means of a dental curing light or even by itself, which will depend on the type of sealant used. Once it has hardened it will become a hard protective layer and the dentist should check that there is no excess material which can cause discomfort when chewing.
As can be seen, this is a quick, painless, minimally invasive procedure that does not require the use of anesthesia, so it is not a traumatic event for the child.
How long do they last?
Approximately dental sealants have an average life of 10 years, which can be longer or shorter. This also depends on the person’s oral hygiene habits and the frequency with which it goes to the dentist, but in general, a properly placed sealant can last for many years in the mouth.
And in cases where the sealant fractures, it can be replaced without any problem as long as the surface of the tooth is free of cavities.
It is important to remember that it is ideal for children to go to the dentist for preventive consultations, since in this way they create the habit of going periodically for clinical checkups and also to avoid the development of cavities.
That is why we invite you to come and see us because we have a highly qualified team of professionals committed to offer their youngest patients the best dental care tailored to each of their needs and under high quality standards and the most updated procedures and treatments.