Dental Sealants in Las Cruces, NM
Dental sealants are clear coatings applied to the surfaces of a child’s molars to prevent the development of tooth decay. They work by preventing food and plaque from resting in the grooves and crevices of molars – an area especially susceptible to cavities. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, nearly 1 in 3 U.S. children ages 6 to 12 currently have sealants on their teeth.
Did you know…
that sealants can last as long as 5 to 10 years pediatric dental patients? Depending on a child’s oral development and risk factors for tooth decay, sealants may be applied to the teeth as young as age 6. It is at this time that the first molars typically appear. Additional molars erupt at approximately age 12. If possible, sealants should be applied to a child’s teeth immediately after any molar has appeared to reduce the risk of early decay.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a dental sealant?
A dental sealant is a thin plastic coating that covers and protects the chewing surfaces of molars, premolars, and any deep grooves or pits on teeth. Sealant material forms a protective, smooth barrier covering natural depressions and grooves in the teeth, making it much easier to clean and help keep these areas free of decay.
Will dental sealants affect the feel or appearance of my child’s teeth?
No, dental sealants will not affect the feel or appearance of your child’s teeth. Sealants bond directly to the teeth and harden to a clear or tooth-colored coat, mimicking the aesthetic of your child’s natural smile. It’s normal to sense new dental sealants with the tongue, but most children quickly adjust to the feeling within a few days.
What will my child experience when getting sealants?
The process of getting a dental sealant is fast and painless. Sealants are easily applied by our Las Cruces dentist or hygienist and the process only takes minutes per tooth. After the chewing surfaces are roughened with an acid solution that helps the sealant adhere to the tooth, the sealant material is “painted” onto the tooth surface, where it hardens and bonds to the teeth. Sometimes a special light will be used to help the sealant material harden.
In most cases, sealants will last several years before needing to be reapplied. However, regular visits to Mesilla Valley Family Dentistry will be necessary to monitor the condition of the sealants and examine their effectiveness.
Will dental sealants prevent all cavities?
While dental sealants are extremely effective for preventing tooth decay in children, they do not replace other forms of preventative oral health care. Children should still brush at least twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste and floss regularly.
It’s also important to schedule regular dental exams every six months, and adopt a balanced diet low in sugar to ensure optimal, long-term oral health. To learn more, give us a call at (575) 523-5589 and a knowledgeable member of our staff will answer any questions you may have.
When are sealants recommended?
Thorough brushing and flossing removes most food particles and bacteria from easy to reach tooth surfaces, but they don’t reach the deep grooves on chewing surfaces of teeth. More than 75 percent of decay begins in deep grooves, also referred to as pits and fissures. This is where dental sealants play an important role.
Who may need a dental sealant?
Dental sealants are most commonly recommended for children younger than 16 years of age to prevent tooth decay and cavities. However, sealants may also be recommended for:
- Children and teenagers – As soon as the six-year molars (the first permanent back teeth) appear or any time throughout the cavity prone years of 6-16.
- Infants – Baby teeth are occasionally sealed if the teeth have deep grooves and the child is cavity prone.
- Adults – Tooth surfaces without decay that have deep grooves or depressions that are difficult to clean.
How do I take care of my teeth after receiving a sealant?
After sealant treatment, it’s important to avoid chewing on ice cubes, hard candy, popcorn kernels, or any hard or sticky foods. Your sealants will be checked for wear and chipping at your regular dental check-up. Combined with good home care, a proper diet, and regular dental check-ups, sealants are very effective in helping prevent tooth decay. This means brushing and flossing regularly, and avoiding foods in high sugar.