Children often don’t brush well enough or long enough to prevent tooth decay. There’s a simple solution to this problem: dental sealants!

How do sealants work?

Your child’s back teeth do the heavy work of chewing food in preparation for digestion. They accomplish this by a clever design of depressions – the bumpy surface we see on a molar – and grooves. These depressions and grooves are called pits and fissures. Even careful brushing can’t always do a good job of getting rid of food debris that’s left behind after eating because toothbrush bristles are too large to reach into these grooves. So plaque and food debris can build up in them. That’s why most tooth decay occurs there!

Sealants provide the easiest and most thorough answer to helping prevent plaque build up and resulting tooth decay. Dental sealants are made of a plastic resin that bonds as a thin covering to the chewing surfaces of children’s teeth. They form a smoother surface, which helps make cleaning the teeth easier and also helps prevent tooth decay from forming. Sealants are applied only to the back teeth (molars).

How are sealants applied?

Sealants are applied in a matter of minutes. The procedure is virtually painless and rarely involves drilling or anesthesia.

After cleaning and conditioning the teeth, your dentist “paints” the sealant onto the chewing surfaces of your child’s teeth. Because it’s a liquid, it flows into all the pits and fissures. It bonds almost instantly to the tooth and then hardens. Sometimes a special light, called a “curing light”, is used to help the sealant harden.

Sealants last a long time – usually several years under normal chewing conditions. As long as the tooth surface is sealed, it’s protected from decay. Your dentist will check the sealant’s condition during your child’s oral checkups.

Sealants are a wonderful weapon against tooth decay but they can’t protect between the teeth. They only cover the chewing surface of the tooth. So proper brushing, flossing and rinsing are very important. Your NCD dentist or hygienist will help you teach your child how to properly clean their teeth and have good dental hygiene for life!

When should my child have sealants applied?

We recommend applying sealants to kids between the ages of five and seven (when the first permanent molars develop) and between eleven and fourteen (when the second set of permanent molars develop).