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Dental Sealants: One of the Greatest, But Least Known

Advances of Modern Dentistry

Dental sealants represent one of the greatest, but least known advances, of modern dentistry. Applied during a simple procedure, dental sealants dramatically reduce childhood cavities. Unfortunately, too many children do not receive the protective benefits of sealants.

Many parents who suffered under the dentist's drill may notice that their children experience far fewer cavities than they did. The use of fluoride along with education about proper brushing and flossing have spared younger generations from frequent cavity formation.

Despite this, however, children still suffer from one type of cavity at relatively high rates. These are cavities which occur in teeth located at the back of the mouth. In fact, nearly 84% of all cavities occur in these teeth!

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These teeth are prone to cavities because they contain small pits and grooves which can not be cleaned by toothbrushing. Bacteria builds up in these pits and groves, feeds on food particles, and creates acid as a by-product of this feeding. It is this bacterially created acid which destroys tooth enamel, causing cavities.

Dental sealants are clear protective coatings which, once applied, cover the tooth surface preventing bacteria and food particles from settling into the pits and grooves. During the application the dentist will thoroughly clean the teeth, prepare the tooth surfaces for application, and then paint the dental sealant onto the teeth. The procedure is quick and painless.

Usually sealants are applied after your child reaches the age of six when the first permanent molars come in. Dental sealants last for 4-5 years and can easily be reapplied by your dentist when they do wear off.

Non-toxic and extremely effective, dental sealants have been recommended by the American Dental Association for twenty years and have been shown to significantly reduce cavities. Despite these facts, however, very few children are protected by dental sealants. The reason? Most dentists cite a lack of public awareness. Parents simply don't know that this is an effective option for protecting their children's teeth.

Ask your dentist about dental sealants during your child's next dental visit. It just may prevent future visits and ensure that your child has a healthy and beautiful smile.