With our wet winters in West Virginia, it’s always a good idea to seal your backyard deck. The same theory applies to the molars or your children’s teeth. Only, rather than a water repellant stain, at Dental Arts of Hedgesville Dr. Smith seals molars with acrylic resin.
Fall is a good time to have your children’s teeth sealed. Hopefully we’re all going to back to school in this oddest of years, but even if learning stays at home this is a good time to have sealants applied.
What are sealants?
The word sealant is a bit of a misnomer. Sealants don’t soak into your teeth as a sealant does on your deck. Instead, think of sealants as fillers. Our molars kind of look like mountains and, like mountains, they have peaks and valleys. In some of those valleys on your molars lie fissures. These fissures can be very narrow, but pretty deep. They can be almost impossible to get down into and clean. Therein lies the problem because areas of the teeth that don’t get cleaned become the playground for bacteria and eventual tooth decay.
Sealants are made of acrylic resin that is inserted down into the fissure, filling it and keeping it from becoming a hideout for bacteria.
When does Dr. Smith place sealants?
In most cases, it’s of no use putting sealants on baby teeth, as they’ll eventually fall out, replaced by the permanent molars. A child’s first permanent molar usually starts to show itself around age 6-7. This is followed by the first premolar, just back from the canine teeth, at age 10-12. The second premolar and second molar then follow at 11-13 years old. The teeth can be sealed as they come in, or all at once. There is one additional molar, the third molar, which is still to come. But these are known as the wisdom teeth and are almost always pulled anyway, as they are vestiges of our evolutionary past.
How are sealants placed?
When we’re placing sealants, we first clean the teeth with a rotating brush and paste. Then we wash the tooth out and dry it with air. Next, Dr. Smith applies an acid solution onto the fissured area of the tooth’s chewing surface for a few seconds before rinsing it off. This creates microscopic etching and a rougher surface that makes for a better bonding surface for the sealant. Now the tooth is dried again, and the liquid dental sealant is applied into the fissure and is hardened with a curing light. The bite is checked to be sure there aren’t any high points and it’s good to go.
How long do sealants last?
Sealants can last for decades, but all that really matters is getting the child through the cavity-prone teenage years. After that, any longer lifespan of the sealant is just a bonus.
If you have kids, talk to Dr. Smith next time you’re in about when it may be time for sealants. Call us at 304-754-8803 to make your next appointment.