Teeth are important and it is essential to begin caring for your child’s teeth early. As soon as your child’s first tooth comes in, there is a chance for decay to occur. Tooth decay early in life, even in baby teeth that eventually fall out, can cause major dental problems in the future and keep your child’s dental development to be hindered.
The combination of sugary foods and the fact that it can be difficult for younger children to keep on top of cleaning their teeth increases the chance of cavities to happen. Food particles can easily get trapped in the crevices of the chewing surfaces of your child’s teeth. The build-up and decay typically happen on the surface of the molars. This is the reason the majority of cavities (tooth decay) in children (and adults) happen on the molars.
What Are Sealants?
Sealants can protect your child’s teeth from tooth decay. Sealants are a thin film that is placed on top of the chewing surface of the tooth. They cover up the cracks and crevices on the tooth surface that food particles can get into. Sealants are not noticeable and they can last up to 10 years.
Who Can Have Sealants?
Your child can have sealants put on at any time. Younger children can have sealants put on their baby teeth and give no opportunity for bacteria to take hold. It is highly recommended that the molars should be the teeth sealants are put on to as they are the primary chewing surface with the greatest food particle contact. The molars in your young child’s mouth also serve the purpose of being a placeholder for the permanent, adult teeth that will replace them.
Older children can have sealants put on their pre-molars and molars as well. By the age of 13, all the permanent teeth should be in. Protecting your older child’s adult back teeth can help prevent cavities into adulthood.
What About Wisdom Teeth?
Typically, sealants are not applied to wisdom teeth. These additional sets of molars don’t usually grow in until the later teen years. The reason sealants aren’t applied to these teeth is because the vast majority of individuals don’t have mouths big enough to accommodate all four wisdom teeth without either the wisdom teeth or the other teeth from becoming crowded and impacted. As a result, most individuals get their wisdom teeth extracted during their early adult years. For the few who are able to keep their wisdom teeth, sealants are then applied.
Sealants are great options for children. They help protect their teeth, which is really important in early childhood while baby teeth are growing in and preparing the mouth for the permanent, adult teeth. Older children whose permanent teeth have already come in can also benefit from sealants and avoid cavities in early adulthood. Sealants work to prevent food particles from getting stuck on the chewing surface of molars which can lead to tooth decay and cavities. Besides thorough, regular oral hygiene, sealants act as an additional support in keeping your child’s teeth healthy and strong.