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What Are “Sealants,” and How Can They Reduce Cavities in Children?

If you’re a parent, you know that getting your child to brush after every meal can be a challenge. Brushing and flossing are the best ways to help prevent cavities, but your children may have other priorities.

 

While brushing is important, it’s not always possible to reach every nook and cranny of your teeth, especially back molars where food particles and cavity-causing bacteria can hide. That’s why sealants, a clear, thin protective coating, can be a key treatment in reducing and preventing cavities when applied to teeth.

 

In fact, sealants have been shown to reduce the risk of decay by nearly 80% in molars. This is especially important when it comes to your child's dental health since, according to a report issued by the Center for Disease Control, "school-age children without sealants have almost three times more cavities than children with sealants." (October 2016)

 

Early intervention is key. Sealants should be applied before teeth have a chance to decay. First molars appear around age 6, and second molars break through around age 12. Applying sealants to new molars can keep them cavity-free from the start, which helps save time and money in the long run.

 

How sealants are applied. It’s an easy and painless process. Your dentist preps the surface of your tooth by applying a gel to form a strong bond between your tooth and the sealant. Sealant is then ready to be applied into the grooves of your tooth making the surfaces smooth which prevents bacteria-filled plaque from sticking to teeth. Sealants harden and dry to a clear, invisible coating, so your dentists can observe if the sealant is effectively protecting your tooth each time you come in for your appointment.

 

Sealants will often last for several years. Your dentist can advise if sealants are an option for you and how often you might need to reapply them.

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How to choose the right Halloween candy
It’s October and time for Halloween! It's great fun for children, trick-or-treating around the neighborhood, collecting candy, coming home to admire their haul, and sometimes stockpiling it for months. But dentists aren’t nearly as enamored with Halloween, because they know the possible ramifications of eating candy: not only damage to the teeth and gums but also possibly to a child's overall health. You already know that having healthy teeth and gums has an impact that goes far beyond the mouth. Poor oral hygiene can lead to cavities, periodontal disease and infection, which can impact a patient's heart, lungs, and entire body. Dr. John Luther, Chief Dental Officer at Western Dental & Orthodontics, has five tips on candy for patients of all ages: 1. Choose candy carefully. Avoid hard candy, such as lollipops, and other sweets that stay in the mouth for a long time. These candies increase the risk for tooth decay. 2. Avoid chewy candy. Chewy, sticky treats, such as caramels or gummies, are particularly damaging as they are high in sugar, spend a prolonged amount of time stuck to teeth, and are more difficult for saliva to break down. 3. Chocolate is preferable. Chocolate dissolves quickly in the mouth and can be eaten easily, decreasing the amount of time sugar stays in contact with teeth. 4. Eat Halloween candy only after mealtime. Parents should avoid letting their kids snack on candy throughout the day. Saliva production increases during meals, helps cancel out acids produced by bacteria in your mouth and helps rinse away food particles. 5. Take preventive steps. Drinking water intermittently helps to keep the sugar from resting in the grooves of their teeth. And while you might be tired of hearing it, brushing and flossing your teeth thoroughly before going to bed are crucial. By exercising good common sense, you’ll maintain a bright smile and healthy gums throughout the Halloween season and beyond. Happy Halloween!