Here’s a statistic that might surprise you: Kids today get fewer cavities than even just a few years ago.
There could be a long list of reasons for the trend. Dentists have made a bigger push towards getting younger kids into the dentist earlier. There are also more products available to help little ones prevent cavities. And of course, society has a renewed focus on sugar, soda, and other causes of cavities.
However, cavities are still widespread among kids. Despite your best efforts, you can’t control what they eat when they’re not at home, nor can you supervise every brushing session. So, it’s no surprise that at least 20 percent of kids between 5 and 11 have at least one cavity that’s currently untreated.
Dental sealants can help. What are sealants, and how do they prevent cavities? Keep reading to learn more about whether sealants for kids is the right choice.
What Are Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are a thin coating painted on the chewing surface of the molars (or back teeth). The sealant works its way into the grooves of your teeth–often in hard to clean places. It sits on top of your tooth enamel to form an extra layer of protection against tooth decay.
Applying the sealant is straightforward and painless. A dentist or hygienist can paint it on all visible molars in a single sitting and dry it with ultra-violet light.
The protection lasts for ten years, but you can accidentally wear them away or chip them. For example, if you eat a lot of crunchy foods or chew ice, you might damage the sealant. Fortunately, if holes or gaps appear, the dentist adds more sealant to repair the protection.
Both adults and kids can get dental sealants, but they are particularly common among kids. According to a dental research agency, pediatric dentists provide twice as many sealants as general dentists.
Are Sealants Necessary for Kids?
Sealants aren’t a requirement for all kids.
What’s more, choosing not to get sealants won’t guarantee that your children will have cavities. For example, dental sealants won’t prevent cavities from forming in between teeth.
However, sealants are an excellent idea for many kids, especially those who had lots of cavities in their baby teeth. As mentioned earlier, somewhere around one in five kids have untreated tooth decay right now.
Why Kids Should Get Sealants
Why are sealants so helpful? Because kids aren’t always great at brushing their teeth, and parents don’t have time to watch kids brush every single tooth twice a day. Brushing and flossing is the best way to prevent cavities, so sealants give kids an extra helping hand that doesn’t rely on personal responsibility.
Sealants are great because they prevent more than just cavities. The semi-permanent treatment also prevents the upset that comes with them.
Remember that cavities aren’t just an inconvenient trip to the dentist. Untreated cavities and tooth decay can cause much more severe consequences than many parents realize.
They can cause pain and even impact how your kids’ teeth meet. If left untreated, cavities can also turn into infections with further complications that require medical treatment and time off school (and work for you).
Other Reasons to Get Sealants
If your kids’ get cavities in their back baby teeth, it may be a sign of things to come either in terms of hygiene or susceptibility to tooth decay.
Additionally, if your kid’s molars have deep grooves, then they are probably more susceptible to cavities because those grooves are harder to clean.
Finally, if your kid has a health condition that impacts their enamel strength, saliva production, or immune system, then sealants may also be a good idea.
When Should Kids Get Sealants?
As soon as they start getting their adult teeth, then they benefit from dental sealants.
Kids can start getting sealants when their molars emerge, usually between ages five and seven. You will also want to get their second molars sealed when they appear around age 12.
If you do choose to get sealants on their teeth, earlier is better. Dentists can’t apply a sealant to teeth that already have cavities because the decay can spread. It can be used on smaller cavities because these little ones aren’t prone to spreading.
Remember, even sealants on all their teeth won’t prevent cavities. Healthy diets and brushing after every meal are still important both for general prevention and to protect the sealant.
Remember: Sealants Are Cheaper Than Fillings
Parents worried about the cost of dental treatments should remember that sealant may only cost between $35 to $65 per tooth. You don’t need to seal all their back teeth, and the sealant stays in place for ten years (with good oral hygiene and a healthy diet).
Fillings, on the other hand, can run between $120 to $300 per tooth.
Are you still concerned about the cost? If you have dental insurance, then it likely covers the sealant procedure for kids, mainly because the ADA and the CDC both highly recommend the process.
You Can Help Your Kids Protect Their Teeth
Kids don’t fully appreciate the consequences of not wanting to brush after dinner. But as adults, we find out that our smiles are often partially the product of our oral hygiene during adolescence.
Dental sealants help protect kids from their bad habits. They are safe to use, easy to apply and last for ten years at a time.
Are you in search of a Barrington dentist for the whole family? Click here to learn more about our comprehensive dentistry and oral care services.