Dr. Santiago Surillo
A San Diego pediatric dentist explains dental sealants and their advantages
Sponsored by Dr. Santiago Surillo
Many pediatric and family dentists recommend dental sealants for their young patients. But do you know why they can play an important role in your child’s oral health?
“Dental sealants can work to protect your child’s teeth from decay,” says Dr. Santiago Surillo, a San Diego pediatric dentist. “Our teeth have many pitted and grooved surfaces, especially on the biting surfaces. We commonly use sealants on the back teeth, where it can be difficult for children to properly clean their teeth.”
Dental sealants are a clear coat of plastic that work to protect the teeth. If your child maintains a proper dental routine, the sealants can protect the teeth for many years, and hopefully get them through the most cavity prone ages.
“Childhood caries are becoming an increasingly serious problem,” says Dr. Santiago Surillo. “Early childhood caries are now the number one childhood illness. You may not think of a cavity as serious, but decay can cause issues with your child’s speech, and because they can be painful, it can be hard to eat.”
Even the most diligent adult can sometimes have tooth decay. Our teeth are full of pits and grooves where food particles can get stuck, leading to decay and cavities. And for children, these areas can be especially hard to clean.
The process is simple, and in one visit your child can have teeth that can stave off cavities.
Your dentist will begin by cleaning your child’s teeth. Then, the teeth will be conditioned and dried. This will ensure the sealant can adhere properly to the tooth. Then, the sealant will be painted on and your dentist will cure, or harden, it using a special light.
“It only takes one quick office visit to apply the sealant,” says Dr. Surillo. “And it requires no downtime, either. Your child will be able to eat and drink right away.”
Sealants can be applied to any tooth, but are most often used on the back teeth, where the biting surfaces have deep grooves that can be hard to clean out. Most dentists recommend the six and twelve year molars be sealed, but depending on how prone your child may be to cavities, it may also be a good idea to seal the premolars and primary molars.
“Dental sealants are very affordable, and can help prevent the expense of fillings,” says Dr. Surillo. “It’s important to check your dental insurance before getting your child’s teeth sealed, however. Some insurance companies have age requirements, and may only cover certain teeth. A member of our staff can help you determine what your insurance covers.”
Dr. Surillo also stresses that children must understand that even though their teeth have been sealed, they aren’t given a free pass to eat and drink anything they want and let their oral care fall to the wayside. Without proper care, decay can still seep in, so children must brush and floss regularly and maintain their regular checkups with their dentist.
Sealants can become cracked over time, especially if your child frequently chews on ice, pencils, or other objects. This is another reason why checkups are so important. If your child’s dentist notices that a sealant has become cracked, he or she can repair it right away.
If you’d like to learn more about how dental sealants may be able to help your child, visit Children’s Braces and Dentistry website and give us a call.