According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), 90% of all the cavities in school-age children occur in the deep pits and fissures of teeth. Sealants can be a valuable tool in preventing the most common types of cavities and thus more extensive dental treatment in the future makes it a very cost-effective form of preventive dental treatment. Studies have shown that with appropriate follow-up care and maintenance, sealants can be 80-90% effective in reducing cavity formation. While the majority of sealants are placed on permanent molars, the AAPD states:
“any tooth, including primary teeth and permanent teeth other than molars, may benefit from sealant application due to fissure anatomy and cavity forming risk factors.”
The reality is, some teeth surfaces are more prone to collecting bacteria and therefor at a higher risk for forming cavities. Because of the way that teeth are formed, the biting surfaces of all back teeth have grooves in them. In some people, these grooves are so deep that even with proper brushing, not all of the bacteria can be removed. When bacteria gets stuck in these deep grooves, or “fissures”, it can lead to cavities. Placing dental sealants over these fissures help prevent bacteria stucking and make the teeth easier to clean.
How are Dental Sealants Applied?
The actual process is easy because no tooth structure is removed and no injections or local anesthetic is required. First, the biting surface of the tooth is cleaned and prepared with a cleaning agent known as “etchant.” Next, a bonding agent is placed and the sealant is flowed into the tooth’s deep grooves and “cured” with a high-intensity blue light. The key to successful sealant placement is keeping the tooth dry and preventing saliva from contaminating the biting surface while the sealant is being placed. For this reason, very young children may not be good candidates for sealants if their teeth cannot be properly isolated for treatment.
Bottom Line, Sealants Prevent Cavities
Sealants are safe and effective in preventing the most common type of cavities in young children. If you have questions or are interested in getting sealants on your child’s teeth during their next dental appointment, fill out our online appointment request form or call us at (830) 239-5411 during regular office hours.