The first teeth to erupt are primary, or more commonly, baby teeth. These little teeth are vulnerable to decay from the moment they first erupt. It is important to keep them as clean as possible. This means wiping down your infant’s teeth and brushing your toddler’s teeth until he or she is able to do it adequately alone. Good oral hygiene will help these teeth last until the permanent teeth erupt. Decay in baby teeth can cause permanent damage to the adult teeth developing underneath and make them susceptible to decay as well. Dental sealants help minimize the risk of decay.
Dental sealants are a protective coating applied as a thin layer on the chewing surfaces of the molars. This coating adheres to the surface of the teeth. It can reduce the incidence of dental decay by as much as 80% when combined with proper brushing and flossing.
Protecting Permanent Teeth
Permanent teeth begin to erupt from about five to seven years of age. The first of these are often called the “6-year molars,” because that is the average age they begin to appear. Permanent teeth are larger than primary teeth, and they have rough and uneven chewing surfaces. The molars have deep grooves and fissures. Bacteria can hide in these areas and cause tooth decay. Regular brushing and flossing are very important. Even with that, molars can be difficult to keep clean and free from harmful bacteria. Sealants provide the needed protection.
The application of dental sealants is fast and painless. The entire procedure takes only a small amount of time. Preparation requires cleaning and drying of the teeth, then a gel is placed on the surface. The gel allows the sealant to adhere to the teeth. The gel is rinsed off and the teeth are dried again. Sealant is then applied to the grooves and fissures. A special light is used to cure and harden the sealant.
Sealants are most often used in newly erupted permanent teeth. They can also be used in adult teeth when the situation calls for it. Make an appointment with Rivers + West Family Dentistry to add this layer of protection to your children’s teeth. You may want to consider sealants for your teeth as well to minimize the development of decay.