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Many dentists are big fans of dental sealants for kids. And that’s because there is a lot of research that supports their effectiveness. In fact, the CDC in the United States has reported that kids aged 6 to 11 without sealants have three times the number of molar cavities as those who have them.[1]

While making sure your child keeps up with their oral hygiene is the best way to protect their teeth from cavities, it can be difficult to clean every place in your child’s mouth. This is especially true for the back teeth that we use to chew, called molars. If food gets left in your child’s teeth, the sugars from the food mixes with the bacteria in the plaque creating a mild acid. This mild acid can break down the outermost layer of the tooth, called enamel. Tooth enamel is important because it helps protect your teeth from damage, such as a cavity (also known as dental caries).

Why cavities should be prevented

Dental cavities can cause pain and infections, as well as interfere with a child’s daily life. Untreated cavities can lead to a dental abscess, which is a bacterial infection inside the teeth, gums, or bone that holds the teeth in place. Eventually this can spread to other parts of the body.

Doesn’t fluoride help prevent cavities?

Yes! Using appropriate fluoride toothpaste and treatments can help prevent cavities in children. But remember that sealants and fluoride work differently: fluoride prevents cavities by strengthening enamel, while sealants create a protective coating over the tooth.

Dental sealants can be an added level of protection

The CDC lists the following reasons why dentists should use sealants for kids:

  1. Dental sealants are a quick and painless way to prevent most of the cavities children get in the permanent back teeth. 9 in 10 cavities occur in this part of the mouth.
  2. Dental sealants protect against 80% of cavities for 2 years and continue to protect against 50% of cavities for up to 4 years
  3. Sealants help eliminate the need for expensive and invasive dental treatments
Molar tooth fissure restoration with filling. Medically accurate tooth 3D illustration.

When does my child need dental sealants? How long do they last?

Dental sealants are most often recommended for children when their permanent molars grow in. First molars typically start appearing around age 6, and second molars usually come through at around age 12. Dental sealants can be put on baby teeth, but this is usually not done since the teeth will eventually shed.

Dental sealants generally last for five to ten years. During normal function, they will wear down and gradually fall off.

What is the process for dental sealants in children?

Getting dental sealants is easy and does not hurt!

  1. A dental checkup that includes x-rays and cleaning to ensure the sealants are being placed on healthy teeth.
  2. After the teeth are examined and cleaned, the dentist preps the surfaces by applying a gel that the sealant resin will stick to. The patient rinses and then the teeth are allowed to dry completely.
  3. The dentist applies the sealant liquid with a small brush and uses a curing light to help speed up the drying process.
  4. Once the sealants have been placed, the dentist will perform a “bite check”, to make sure the bite has not significantly changed and the sealants feel comfortable.

Need more information about dental sealants for your child? Book an appointment with our international team of dentists in Singapore.

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[1] https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/dental-sealants/index.html