The chewing surfaces of your child’s back teeth are ripe for cavity development. These surfaces are rough. Unlike other areas of your teeth, back teeth are filled with tiny grooves called ”pits and fissures.” These grooves are great at trapping food particles and bacteria, and toothbrush bristles aren’t entirely effective at reaching those areas.
A child’s newly erupted permanent teeth are less resistant to decay than those of adults. As enamel ages, it becomes stronger, and can protect teeth better. Flouride, which is found in toothpaste and in some drinking water, can help strengthen enamel – but again, getting flouride into those crevices can be a challenge. Dr Leach offers a great solution to this issue: Dental Sealants.
Dental sealants are an invisible, plastic, resin coating that smooths out the “pits and fissures” of the back teeth. This helps them resist tooth decay, which in turn helps lower the risk of future dental issues and subsequent treatment.
A sealant is like a miniature filling, but made of plastic. It’s not however, the same as having a cavity filled. Placing a sealant on the enamel surface of the tooth is painless, and doesn’t typically require numbing shots.
An examination is the first step in the process. If minimal decay is found, the experts at Steven Leach Dental will gently remove it. Then they will clean and dry the tooth. Once dry, a solution will be applied to the tooth that will etch (roughen) the surface and allow the sealing material to adhere more effectively. Then the tooth is rinsed and dried once again. After that the sealant is painted on as a liquid, which hardens in about a minute (sometimes with the help of a special “curing” light). And that’s pretty much it!
A note about BPA: A 2012 study that received wide press coverage raised concerns that trace amounts of the chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) found in some (but not all) dental resins might contribute to behavioral problems in children. The study authors noted that while they had found an association, they had not actually proven that BPA in dental sealants causes these problems. In fact, BPA is far more prevalent in food and beverage packaging than in dental restorative materials. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association have since reaffirmed their support for the use of sealants.
Proper oral hygiene applies to sealed teeth, just as it does to all other teeth. Your child should continue regular brushing and flossing and have regular cleanings at Steven Leach Dental. During regular examinations Dr. Leach’s team will check sealants for wear and tear. Properly maintained sealed teeth should last for up to 10 years, and can reduce decay by more than 70 percent!