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Fight Childhood Tooth Decay with Sealants

It may seem overly pro-active to consider sealants for children, but they are the ultimate preventative measure against tooth decay. Tooth decay is one of the most common diseases among children, and is on the rise with four million preschoolers documented with dental caries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have stated that cavities in baby teeth are found in 42% of children between 2 to 11 years old. Another 21% of children between the ages of 6 to 11 experience cavities in their permanent teeth. If left untreated, tooth decay can lead to loss of teeth, severe pain, and worse.

Tooth decay has become such a significant childhood disease, that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now advocate sealants for at least school-age kids. Despite diligent efforts to teach our children good brushing and flossing habits, inevitably they will become exposed more and more to sugar and other bacterial-causing foods as they become grow up and begin going to school or friends’ houses. Providing a shield from this bacteria is the ultimate and most-effective defense.

Sealants are thin, plastic coatings applied only to the back teeth that contain ridges, pits, and grooves that are hotbeds for bacteria from sugar and plaque. Because these are “grinding teeth,” food is worked into the grooves and are hard to extract with tooth brushes and floss. The coating “seals” off these hard-to-reach areas and prevents acid produced by plaque from attacking and corroding the tooth. Ideally, you want to hit these teeth with sealants before cavities have formed, but in some instances, if tiny cavities have formed, sealants will prevent them from exacerbating, as the cavity is now protected from further bacterial invasion.

Applied as a liquid, sealants are an easy and painless process. The coatings are practically unnoticeable, and they are also cost-effective. A sealant costs significantly less than a filling or a crown, and can last up to ten years.

Because children have baby teeth for the first six years of their lives, some people may think getting a sealant is unnecessary since the tooth will eventually fall out when permanent teeth come in. However, tooth decay becomes a possibility the minute the first tooth emerges, making toddlers just as susceptible to its dangers as teenagers. Worse even, alignment problems can occur if a baby tooth has to be removed before the adult tooth can form, since it acts like a placeholder.

Dental experts recommend that children get sealants on their first permanent molars that appear between the ages of five and seven. Some dentists do recommend for younger children to have their baby grooved teeth coated, but that warrants careful discussion with your dentist.

This article brought to you by Watts Family Dental, your friendly Overland Park Dentist. We specialize in sealants for all ages, so make an appointment for your consultation today Please call (913) 338-3384 or visit our Overland Park, Kansas office. You may also send an email direct to at any time.

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