February is the official National Children's Dental Health Month, as recognized by the ADA. Thousand Oaks Family Dentistry will be rolling out weekly topics relating to pediatric dentistry all month long. Make sure to check back regularly to catch all the great information.
While Dental Sealants are appropriate for patients of all ages, they are most commonly placed on kids and teens to maximize their preventative ability. The pit and groove patterns of the chewing teeth create near-perfect food traps. In fact, they are often so deep and narrow that toothbrush bristles cannot reach the furthest depths. Bacteria can then grow in these areas undisturbed and fueled by a constant food source. This is the general pattern behind cavities on the biting (occlusal) surfaces of teeth.
Sealants interrupt this process by physically filling in the deepest parts of these pits and grooves. With the space gone, the risk of developing cavities in these areas is significantly decreased. The process of placing a sealant takes about 45 minutes (depending on the number of teeth) and does not require a shot. We start by cleaning the teeth with gentle air abrasion. Once the teeth are free of saliva, bacteria and food, we place the material into all deep grooves. The procedure is finished by checking the patient's bite and making sure the sealant is well bonded to the tooth.
It is important to understand that sealants only protect against decay on the biting surfaces of the teeth. Cavities between the teeth (another common area) are only prevented by proper brushing and flossing. Additionally, it is worth noting that sealants can fall off over time and are much more likely to fail if the patient's home care is insufficient. As always, the key is brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily. If you have any more questions about sealants, what they do or why we place them, please give our office a call!