Use the time when your child is on school holiday to take him or her in for a routine dental exam or any dental work that needs to be done. And, if you're worried about holiday candies and sweet treats like candy canes, sugar cookies, and popcorn balls damaging your child's pearly whites, talk to your family dentist about the protection dental sealants offer to reduce the risk of tooth decay.

What Sealants Are

A sealant is a plastic-like coating that your dentist can apply to your child's back teeth to protect them against decay. Once the sealant bonds to the grooves in teeth and hardens, it acts as a barrier between tooth enamel and oral bacteria that convert sugar into eroding acids.

If the pits and grooves in your child's molars are deep, sealants help protect the chewing surfaces of the back teeth where most tooth decay begins. The sealant also provides a smooth surface that is easier to clean.

Your child doesn't have to be self-conscious about having sealants applied to the teeth either. Most sealants are clear or white in color, making them barely visible to others.

Where Sealants Are Applied

Dentists apply sealants to the chewing surfaces of a child's molars and premolars (bicuspids). These teeth have cusps and pits where food gets trapped and plaque easily develops and leads to tooth decay.

Since your child may have more difficulty reaching the back teeth to keep them clean, applying sealants helps protect tooth enamel from the harmful effects of eroding acids. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that studies show sealants can reduce tooth decay in a child's permanent molars by about 80 percent—particularly during the two years following application.

If during a dental exam, your child's dentist notices that tooth enamel on any of the back teeth is eroding, fluoride treatment together with the application of sealant can help re-mineralize the enamel to prevent cavities or keep early tooth decay from getting worse.

How Long Sealants Last

Your family's dentist can apply sealants to your child's molars as soon as they come through. Although sealants help protect the teeth for several years, they eventually wear and need to be reapplied. Sealants can also chip; therefore, your dentist will check the condition of the sealants at regular dental checkups and reapply as needed.

A Gift for Yourself

Dental sealants aren't just for children. If you're more prone to getting cavities yourself, especially if you have gum disease or dry mouth syndrome, you can benefit from dental sealants too. So why not gift both your child and yourself the protection of dental sealants this holiday season? For more information, talk to a dentist like Sunnyside Dentistry for Children-David E Doyle, DDS.