Dental Sealants in Children
Dental sealants in children have a proven record of results.
A dental sealant is a special dental plastic resin that is bonded to a tooth surface to help fill in cracks and to prevent tooth decay and make the tooth easier to clean.
Although adults may choose to have dental sealant applied, this preventative measure is most often used with children.
Children may not brush their teeth with as much zeal as an adult who knows what a toothache feels like.
Even the most diligent monitoring by parents can’t always assure that children are brushing as thoroughly as they need for good dental health.
Children may have a lot more difficulty reaching those cracks and crevices in back because of their developing motor skills.
Applying dental sealants in children is a good strategy to help overcome these issues and ensure healthy teeth with the minimum of problems in growing children.
Dental Sealants in Children – At What Age?
One of the most frequent questions parents ask is at what age are dental sealants in children best applied. To better understand that, let us take a look at what the use of dental sealant involves.
The child will need to be able to cooperate in some degree with the dentist in holding their mouth open and holding still. The tooth must be thoroughly cleaned prior to application of the resin to the tooth. This is often done with a rotary brush tool or a small dental sand blaster.
When the tooth is thoroughly cleaned the dentist will apply an etching gel, and then after a few minutes the gel is removed. The dental sealant is then applied, a curing light is placed on the tooth and then the dentist will check the bite.
While applying a dental sealant to a child’s tooth is painless and relatively fast, a child who is too young may not be able to cooperate for that long a period. If a child is too restless or uncooperative then a less than adequate bond which doesn’t last as long as it might otherwise.
However it should be remembered that however long that sealant remains in place is that much longer that tooth stays protected.
Dental sealants in children require the child’s teeth be fully erupted and most frequently this procedure is done to children who have their permanent teeth.
Every child is different and this should be talked over with the dentist. Not every single tooth needs to be sealed; every child’s requirements are different. It is best to schedule an appointment with the child’s dentist and discuss it after he evaluates the child’s teeth.
Dental sealants in children can be expected to last around three to five years at a minimum but it is also not unusual to see sealants which were applied when the child was young, still in place on an adult.
Preventive Dental Care
A toothache or cavity is not something any parent wants their child to experience and at one time tooth decay was thought to be difficult or impossible to avoid.
Dental practices in the past focused mostly on cleaning and repairing teeth prevention was a good idea but aside from brushing and cleaning dentists had few preventative tools.
In the past dentists would check teeth and routinely perform any restoration necessary by drilling out cavities and filling them. Improvements in preventative dental techniques however have changed a lot of the focus and the modern approach to dentistry focuses as much on prevention as restoration.
Much more is known now about how tooth decay occurs, what conditions are most likely to allow a tooth to decay and how to help prevent it during the formative years when a child may be most likely to develop cavities and continue that protection through adulthood.
The development of fast drying plastic resins which can withstand the punishment teeth take on a daily basis has made the dental sealant practical.
While an adult may well be able to reach those molars and get into the difficult to reach crevices; a child is more at risk of tooth decay due to their still developing motor skills, as well as the fact that they don’t usually understand the risks involved in not brushing thoroughly.
A young person who has had their teeth cleaned regularly may be more tolerant and cooperative during the application of dental sealants in children, but it is usually best to let the dentist familiar with the child evaluate them as well.
A decision as to how many teeth if any are suitable for dental sealants in children can then be made in conjunction with the child's parents after an examination.
Just as every child is different their mouths are also different and one child might require a single tooth or two sealed while another might do best with several molars sealed.
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