Young dental patients between the ages of six and fourteen are the most prone to developing cavities. Dentists need to take extra precautions with children to prevent cavity development. One possible procedure dentists can recommend for young patients who are especially susceptible to cavities is the application of dental sealants.
How dental sealants work
Applying a dental sealant involves sealing off gaps and spaces on and between the surfaces of teeth with a thin plastic film. Cavities are typically caused when food particles, bacteria, and plaque build up in these areas and develop into tooth decay. If such spaces are sealed off, cavities will not be as likely to develop.
Applying dental sealants is a one-time procedure, but a dentist will regularly examine the already placed sealants during the coming years at regular checkups to ensure that they are still effective.
What type of patient is a good candidate for a dental sealant?
Any patient who experiences cavities frequently stands to gain from dental sealant use. However, young children are the most frequent candidates for this type of procedure.
A dentist like James J. Susack, DMD, PC can determine if a child who has experienced numerous cavities can benefit from the application of a dental sealant through an examination. The dentist will look to see if cavities are forming because the child has many grooves, depressions, and gaps in his or her back teeth where decay is starting. Teeth sealant is typically most effective in preventing decay in the molars and premolars in the back of the mouth.
According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sealants can reduce the development of tooth decay in young patients by over 70 percent. However, the procedure is underutilized because many parents aren't informed regarding its effectiveness.
The following are some advantages dental sealants offer:
- Long term effectiveness: The application of dental sealants to cavity-prone teeth is a one-time procedure that will be effective for years to come. Studies show that dental sealants can remain effective for longer than five years on average.
- Prevents the pain and inconvenience of cavities: If cavities are dealt with after they've already developed, it usually results in extreme discomfort, the need for expensive fillings, and visible fillings in the mouth.
- More effective than fluoride: Fluoride supplementation is another common method of fighting cavities in both children and adults. However, fluoride supplementation through fluoridation of water has only been shown to be effective at reducing tooth decay by between 20 and 40 percent.