Almost all children get cavities. And when it happens, chances are it occurs in teeth at the back of the mouth. These molars are the strong teeth that we use to chew food. They have tiny grooves called pits and fissures, which make them more effective for grinding food. Unfortunately, small particles of what we eat can often get trapped in these tiny grooves, which is why it’s more common to form cavities in our molars.

Fortunately, there are some ways to prevent tooth decay from forming. In addition to helping your child to engage in a daily oral hygiene routine, your dentist can apply what’s called a dental sealant to your child’s teeth. A sealant is simply a very thin layer of plastic designed to protect the teeth – particularly the molars – from collecting food particles that can form bacteria and lead to tooth decay. The sealant also creates a smooth surface on the molar, which makes it easier to clean these teeth. Sealants can be especially helpful for children who are cavity-prone.

Sealants can even be used on baby teeth. In fact, dentists often recommend using sealants for baby molars since the plastic layer helps to protect these teeth and keep them intact until the child’s permanent molars erupt. Sealants often last as long as 10 years, and can be repaired if the material becomes damaged. Although molars are commonly sealed since they are more apt to develop cavities, any of your child’s teeth can be sealed for added protection.

Ask your dentist if a dental sealant is the right choice for your child. Many dentists recommend that sealants be applied as soon as a child’s baby molars erupt. If you choose to have this done for your child, you may end up preventing him or her from needing fillings later on to repair the tooth decay that can so easily occur on baby teeth.

Sealants are, of course, only one of many steps you and your child should be taking to ensure their good oral health. In addition to helping and/or encouraging your child to brush twice a day with an enamel-building toothpaste, you should ask your dentist to help teach your child how to floss so they can add this to their oral hygiene routine every day. As a parent, you can also do your part by making sure that your child doesn’t eat too much sugar, and by taking him or her into the dentist for regular checkups and professional cleanings. The combination of all these steps, in addition to dental sealants, will give your child a head start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.

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