What are Dental Sealants? Do All Kids Need Them?

Langhorne, Pa.     www.DrB4Kids.com

I was applying a sealant on a little girl the other day when her mom asked me some questions. I think that many moms (and dads) are sometimes confused about dental sealants for kids so I decided to shed some light on the subject (no pun intended – we use a blue light to harden the plastic).

  • What is a dental sealant?

A sealant is a very thin layer of strong plastic that bonds to the chewing part of the tooth in order to seal out the germs that cause cavities.  

  • Do all kids need them?  

No.  However, it does take some detective work to find out which teeth can benefit from them. Let me explain: The tops of the back teeth have tiny grooves that can sometimes be impossible to clean. If the grooves are deep and narrow, the toothbrush bristle cannot reach them to remove the plaque (bacteria).  As a result, despite excellent oral hygiene habits, cavities develop. When we apply dental sealants for kids, they fill in the deep narrow grooves and make them smooth and slippery. This greatly reduces the chances for decay to develop.  

  • How long do dental sealants last?

The lifespan of a sealant will vary, but we have found that they last a few years, but occasionally dental sealants for kids need to be repaired or reapplied. In our practice, the recommendation for sealants is considered on an individual basis using my best clinical judgment. If recommended, sealants are a good investment, especially when you consider the expense of restoring a tooth already damaged by decay. BTW, in our practice, I feel so strongly about the benefits of sealants, if I see that one of our sealants needs to be replaced or reapplied, I do it as a courtesy.

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