When should sealants be put on my child’s teeth?

There's something you can do to protect your child's teeth from cavities and to uphold good overall oral hygiene: Sealants.

You've got the brushing game going on every morning and night, flossing is part of your kid's daily routine and sugary eats and treats have been restricted in your home (apart from the days when granny visits, of course). But there's something else you can do to protect your child's teeth from cavities and to uphold good overall oral hygiene: Sealants.

Even with a disciplined dental care routine, it is impossible to clean behind every corner of your teeth, especially the molars. Their surfaces are rough, and their exposure to the food you chew on the tooth surface is much higher than your front teeth. About 90 per cent of cavities appear in the back teeth, also known as the premolars and molars. Having sealants put on the molars as soon as they make their appearance in your child's gums, will assist in keeping the teeth clear from cavities and decay. Remember, you should still encourage your kids to brush and floss diligently, but sealants can act as an effective barrier between their natural teeth and harmful bacteria.

What is a sealant?

Dental sealant is a thin, plastic coating, which is painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth by the dentist. The sealant quickly bonds into the indents and grooves of the teeth (of which the molars have loads), forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth.

Why are sealants important?

The Centers for Disease Control released a report in 2016 which found that dental sealants prevent cavities and provide effective dental protection for children. It found that children between ages 6 and 11 with sealants have almost three times less first molar cavities than those without sealants. Dental sealants prevent 80% of cavities in the back teeth, where 9 in 10 cavities occur. Untreated cavities can cause pain, infection, and problems eating, speaking, and learning difficulties.

The New Zealand Dental Association is urging parents to continue regular dental checks once your child has had sealants put in. Though sealants can last for many years, it should be checked regularly to make sure the seal is still intact. They wear over time, and from time to time it might be necessary to add or replace some sealants.

Having fissure sealants put on your child's molars, needn't cost an arm and a leg. In New Zealand, children up until 17 years of age, who meet the eligibility criteria for public health services, can receive several dental treatments free of charge. These include routine examinations, fluoride treatment (which helps make the surface of the teeth more resistant to decay), fissure sealants, fillings and extractions. All the info on this is found on the New Zealand Health Government website.

So, when is a good time to seal the deal?

Firstly, have a chat with your family dentist or pediatric dentist for expert advice about sealants for your child's permanent back molar teeth. City Dentists are sure to give expert advice on this contact us for an appointment.

The first molars usually come through somewhere around ages 6 and 7. It's best to get these molars sealed as soon as they have appeared. When the rest of the molars appear which can be any time up until 14 years of age they can be sealed by your dentist if deemed necessary.

Generally, babies do not require sealants when their first teeth appear. But it's maybe a good idea to have a close look at her teeth if it has deep depressions and grooves, she could benefit from a sealant. Your baby's teeth play an important role in holding the correct spacing for permanent teeth. It's important to keep these teeth strong and healthy.