The chewing surfaces of the back teeth are filled with deep grooves that can be difficult to clean. This means that they are at risk for the accumulation of plaque and tartar, and ultimately for tooth decay. Fluoride treatments can help protect all the teeth, but dental sealants are recommended for extra protection on the back teeth. A dental sealant is a plastic coating that creates a smooth surface that cannot be penetrated by food debris and plaque.

Photograph of a young child with brown hair smiling while looking at the camera. The child is at the dentists office about to have their teeth brushed.

Dental sealants are recommended for all children as their premolars and molars erupt. The ideal time to protect each back tooth is as soon as it emerges, though some parents prefer to wait until all of the back teeth have come in. This normally occurs when the child is 11 to 13 years old.

In some cases, we will recommend sealing the baby teeth. We normally make this recommendation if the child is particularly prone to dental disease, or if the baby teeth have unusually deep grooves. Dental sealants are occasionally used for adults whose teeth were not previously sealed, especially if you are at an elevated risk for cavities.

Dental sealants should be checked regularly for signs of peeling or chipping. Although they are durable and typically last for many years, it is not unusual to need a replacement every now and then.

What to Expect

The first step is to use a paste and a rotating brush to thoroughly clean the surface of the tooth. Next, we will use an acidic solution on the grooved portion of the tooth to rough it up, making it easier for the sealant to adhere. We will thoroughly rinse and dry the tooth, paint on the liquid sealant, and then use a special light to harden it. Your child will be able to chew normally on the hardened sealant.

Dental sealants are normally placed on the back teeth, so their exact appearance is unimportant. Occasionally, though, we recommend sealing teeth that are a bit further forward in the mouth. If this happens, we will carefully color match the sealant or choose a clear formulation to ensure that the sealed teeth blend aesthetically with the non-sealed teeth.

Note that dental sealants are not a substitute for fluoride treatments. They protect only the teeth on which they are applied. If your child needs fluoride treatments, they must be administered as directed to protect all of the teeth in the mouth from cavities and decay.

Dental sealants are among the best ways to protect children’s teeth. We strongly recommend that all children receive them as soon as their premolars start to erupt, or no later than when all of their back teeth have emerged. The sooner sealants are placed, the more they will be able to protect the teeth.

Ready to Get Started?

If you are ready to take the first steps toward improving your dental health, we invite you to contact Family Dental Care of Bellevue today at 425-643-5778 to make an appointment for your initial consultation.

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