Permanent molars usually start to surface and settle in around age six—right about the same time that parents are trying to give kids more control over their brushing. Unlike baby teeth, which are fairly flat, these permanent teeth have much deeper and more pronounced grooves that hang onto food, plaque and other gunk in the mouth. Dental sealants offer a way to protect permanent molars at a pivotal time when children are developing strong oral hygiene habits.
How complicated is the procedure?
Simple and quick, the treatment is generally well tolerated by most children. It involves painting a liquid resin into the grooves of all of the teeth behind the incisors (eight at the front) and canines (four at the corners). The resin is then cured with a light so it becomes a rock-solid barrier to food and bacteria that can cause cavities.
How much does it cost?
Insurance companies often pick up most, if not all, of the expense.
Are there risks involved?
The risks associated with dental sealants are minimal. The resin does wear away naturally and can chip out over time, but if kids are taking care of their teeth the way they should be—regularly brushing and flossing—even chipped sealants shouldn’t cause problems.
Unlike some dental practices which focus mainly on application, Dentistry for Children works in partnership with families to maintain sealants because we believe in keeping smiles as healthy and functional as possible at all times. We monitor sealants at routine six-month visits and touch up any areas that are missing or worn down at no additional cost to parents.
Do sealants need to be applied more than once?
Right around the age of 12 or 13, the bicuspids (pre-molars) and second set of permanent molars come in. At this point, we seal everything up a second time.
If your family is in need of a partner in dental care, please contact us. You can learn more about my partner Dennis and I here. For more information about our dental practice and staff, please read some of these other blog entries.