At Gifford Family Dentistry, as a dentist in Portland, I routinely recommend dental sealants for kids because their chewing teeth have folds and buckles that trap food, which is often missed by their budding brushing habits. Sealants can effectively reduce the occurrence of cavities. The best part? Adults of all ages can benefit from teeth sealants too.
According to the CDC, when comparing school-aged children, those without dental sealants have nearly three times the tooth decay as kids who do. What does it mean for you? Lost time from school for your kids, and time off work for you. Not to mention unnecessary pain for your kids … and for your pocketbook.
Here’s how they work...
Dental sealants are clear or white plastic coatings we apply to the chewing surface of the back teeth, where cavities are most likely to form. Because the sealant material is fluid when applied, it fills the grooves of molars and bonds securely to the tooth to create a barrier (seal) against decay-causing oral bacteria. This physical barrier also prevents food from sticking in deep crevasses. They work best protecting new teeth, which makes them ideal for children.
Depending on your child’s chewing patterns, the sealants can last from six months to several years. We will check them at every appointment to make sure they are still doing their job properly. Sealants aren’t designed for areas between the back teeth or for front teeth. And teeth that already have fillings or decay cannot usually be sealed.
It takes only a few minutes to apply the sealant and give your child’s teeth years of insurance against decay. There's no drilling or freezing required.
In addition to helping kids prevent cavities, teeth sealants can help save adult smiles under many circumstances…
Change in routines – When young adults leave the nest, many change their habits and diet as they begin to make their own way in the world. And without your gentle reminders, many may not practice the same high level of oral hygiene home care as they did while at home.
Medicines and health issues – Some medicines or illnesses cause dry mouth. Lower saliva levels (leading to lower enamel remineralization and acid neutralization) can lead to cavities. Acid reflux bathes your teeth in stomach acid, which could wear away tooth enamel and cause decay.
Inability to brush effectively – For many reasons, whether it be age, cognitive ability, or physical barriers, some people find that brushing effectively can be challenging.
When should dental sealants be applied?
For kids, it’s best to apply sealants shortly after their primary molars emerge – usually between 1 and 3 years – and again once their permanent teeth begin to erupt – usually between age 6 and 13. For adults, we can apply sealants any time there’s a risk of decay, no matter how small.
Remember – dental sealants don’t take the place of brushing, flossing, and healthy eating. But using them is a proven and painless technique that can help preserve your child’s smile for a lifetime. To learn more about teeth sealants from our dentist in Portland, call today!
Yours in excellent dental health,
Dr. Todd Gifford, your Family & Cosmetic Dentist in Portland