Sealing Out Tooth Decay

Tooth decay has become increasingly prevalent in preschoolers.  Not only is tooth decay unpleasant and painful, it can also lead to more serious problems like premature tooth loss and childhood periodontal disease.

Dental sealants are an important tool in preventing childhood caries (cavities) and tooth decay.  Especially when used in combination with other preventative measures, like biannual checkups and an excellent daily home care routine, sealants can bolster the mouth’s natural defenses, and keep smiles healthy.

How do sealants protect children’s teeth?

In general, dental sealants are used to protect molars from oral bacteria and harmful oral acids.  These larger, flatter teeth reside toward the back of the mouth and can be difficult to clean.  Molars mark the site of four out of five instances of tooth decay.  Decay-causing bacteria often inhabit the nooks and crannies (pits and fissures) found on the chewing surfaces of the molars.  These areas are extremely difficult to access with a regular toothbrush.

If the pediatric dentist evaluates a child to be at high risk for tooth decay, he or she may choose to coat additional teeth (for example, bicuspid teeth).  The sealant acts as a barrier, ensuring that food particles and oral bacteria cannot access vulnerable tooth enamel.

Dental sealants do not enhance the health of the teeth directly, and should not be used as a substitute for fluoride supplements (if the dentist has recommended them) or general oral care.  In general however, sealants are less costly, less uncomfortable, and more aesthetically pleasing than dental fillings.

How are sealants applied?

Though there are many different types of dental sealant, most are comprised of liquid plastic.  Initially, the pediatric dentist must thoroughly clean and prepare the molars, before painting sealant on the targeted teeth.  Some sealants are bright pink when wet and clear when dry.  This bright pink coloring enables the dentist to see that all pits and fissures have been thoroughly coated.

When every targeted tooth is coated to the dentist’s satisfaction, the sealant is either left to self-harden or exposed to blue spectrum natural light for several seconds (depending on the chemical composition of the specific brand).  This specialized light works to harden the sealant and cure the plastic.  The final result is a clear (or whitish) layer of thin, hard, durable sealant.

It should be noted that the “sealing” procedure is easily completed in one office visit, and is entirely painless.

When should sealants be applied?

Sealants are usually applied when the primary (baby) molars first emerge.  Depending on the oral habits of the child, the sealants may last for the life of the primary tooth, or need replacing several times.  Essentially, sealant durability depends on the oral habits of the individual child.

Pediatric dentists recommend that permanent molars be sealed as soon as they emerge.  In some cases, sealant can be applied before the permanent molar is full grown.

The health of the sealant must be monitored at biannual appointments.  If the seal begins to lift off, food particles may become trapped against the tooth enamel, actually causing tooth decay.

If you have questions or concerns about dental sealants, please contact your pediatric dentist.

Testimonials.

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Testimonials

100% recommend this dentist! I am from out of town and was camping, and woke up with exploding pain in my jaw. Dr. Chisholm saw me on short notice on a Friday afternoon, did a thorough examination, and found out my problems were in my jaw, not in my teeth. He ground down an existing crown to make my bite even, And I experienced immediate relief. He could have charged an arm and a leg but was conscientious of my financial status and luckily didn’t even need to do x-rays. He recommended a chiropractic jaw adjustment, which I appreciate immensely. He’s very personable and it took time to sit and talk with me and make sure I understood everything. You will be in good hands with Dr. Chisholm!

Suzette S.

Great dentists. Worked well with my kids.

I had a crown. There were a few things that made it better than my last 3 crowns at 2 different dentists. First is that it was pain free. He did a good job at numbing. A few uncomfortable moments but no grip the chair in pain moments like I'd had with other crowns. The other was he used a dental dam. Kind of annoying for breathing and clamping on tooth not fun, but I have silver fillings and the dam prevented the silver (with mercury) from getting lodged in my mouth (one prior dentists i had to stop and fish a piece of filling from the back of my throat).

Cost is on par with other dentists I would have expected a bit cheaper due to the location but on par nonetheless.

Aaron S.

Very friendly and they do great work.

Jarom L.

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Contact Us. We encourage you to contact us with any questions or comments you may have. Please call our office or use the quick contact form below.

Contact Us

We encourage you to contact us with any questions or comments you may have. Please call our office or use the quick contact form below.