Oftentimes, even children that have healthy diets, use proper brushing techniques and regularly floss may still encounter the occasional cavity. “The causes of decay are mutlifactorial“says hygienist and treatment coordinator for Dr. Halley, Nancy St Onge. “A person’s enzyme make-up has more to do with it than you realize. That is why a family can have one child with perfectly healthy teeth and another child riddled with decay; those children are unique in their make-up. This is the reason Dr. Halley provides treatment recommendations tailored to the individual needs of each child.” Typically, proper brushing, regular flossing and visits to the dentist will help prevent cavities; however, sealants are an added safe-guard. First approved by the FDA in the 1970’s, sealants are designed to literally “seal” the pits and grooves that form on teeth thus preventing food and bacteria from getting caught. Sealants are particularly helpful for molars and premolars as they tend to be filled with pits and grooves that are difficult to clean with a toothbrush. “Sometimes, baby teeth do have grooves that are deep enough to trap food and cause decay; this can make them come out earlier than they should” (North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services). The most accurate way to determine if your young child is a candidate for sealants is to have them examined by a dentist. The best time to put sealants on teeth is just after the permanent first molars appear. Just as fluoride provides protection from decay, sealants provide an added benefit to the chewing surfaces.
If you are concerned that your child may need sealants, be sure to talk to Dr. Halley about it at your next visit. For patients with insurance, we will let you know if this is a covered benefit and the estimated cost for the procedure in advance of placing the sealants.
Keep those molars happy by helping to prevent decay!
ReferencesNorth Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health, Oral Health Section. (2006). Dental Sealants Seal Out Tooth Decay [Brochure].