What You Should Know About Having Sealant Applied To Your Child's Teeth

It's important to teach your child good dental hygiene habits starting when the baby teeth first erupt. Establishing a pattern of regular dental visits and daily brushing will help protect your child's teeth for life. However, it may be difficult for your child to always brush effectively. That's where dental sealants come in. They help reduce the risk of developing cavities. The procedure is easy to endure, and it's certainly much less stressful and less expensive than getting a filling. Here's what you should know about this dental procedure.

Dental Sealants Fill Pits

The pits and grooves of your child's teeth are breeding grounds for bacteria because food gets stuck in them easily. If your child is not able to brush vigorously, the food may not get removed. Even if your child brushes very well, the bristles on the toothbrush may be too large to get down into the very small pits. A dental sealant is a type of liquid plastic the dentist applies to a tooth. It flows into all the grooves and pits, and then hardens. This makes the surface of the tooth smoother and less likely to trap food that attracts bacteria that leads to tooth decay.

Sealants Are Usually For Molars

The back teeth, or molars, are usually the ones that have an irregular surface covered with grooves and pits. Therefore, it is common to wait for the first set of molars to fully erupt before considering dental sealants. The decision is on a tooth by tooth basis. Your child's dentist examines each tooth after it emerges through the gum. It's possible the dentist will recommend sealing a baby tooth or a front tooth. It all depends on the shape and condition of your child's teeth.

Another reason your dentist may wait to apply sealant until the molars come in is because by then your child is old enough to cooperate with the procedure. While it isn't painful, some cooperation is necessary since the tooth has to stay dry or the sealant won't adhere properly.

The Procedure Is Quick

It doesn't take long to apply sealant to a tooth. First, the teeth need to be cleaned to remove all plaque and tartar so the sealant will stick. Once that's done, the dentist applies gauze around the gums or uses a dam to keep moisture away from the teeth. The sealant is painted on so it can fill in fissures and pits. Once it is in place, the dentist shines a curing light on the liquid to cause it to harden. Once the sealant is hard, the dentist checks your child's bite to make sure the sealant is not too thick. If it is, some of it is ground down with a drill. There is no need for an anesthetic injection because there is no pain associated with having this dental procedure done. This makes it easy for your child to endure since it is quick and painless.

Insurance May Cover Sealants

If you have dental insurance, be sure to check your policy to see if dental sealants are covered. Since they prevent the need for more costly fillings, insurance companies often contribute money toward the procedure. However, there may be stipulations such as an age limit and a limit to the number of sealants they'll cover.

For more information, contact Village Family Dental or a similar location.