Sealants should be used as part of a child's total preventive dental care. Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings which are applied to the chewing surfaces of the molars (back teeth). Most tooth decay in children and teens occurs in these surfaces. Sealants cover the chewing surfaces to prevent decay.

Applying sealants does not require drilling or removing tooth structure. It is an easy three-step process: We clean the tooth with a special toothpaste. A special cleansing liquid, on a tiny piece of cotton, is rubbed gently on the tooth and is washed off. Finally, the sealant is painted on the tooth. It takes about a minute for the sealant to form a protective shield. One sealant application can last for as long as 5 to 10 years. Sealants should be checked regularly, and reapplied if they are no longer in place.

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Q. Are digital X-rays safe?

A. We are all exposed to natural radiation in our environment. Digital x-rays produce a significantly lower level of radiation compared to traditional dental x-rays. Not only are digital x-rays better for the health and safety of the patient, they are faster and more comfortable to take, which reduces your time in the dental office. Also, since the digital image is captured electronically, there is no need to develop the x-rays, thus eliminating the disposal of harmful waste and chemicals into the environment.

Even though digital x-rays produce a low level of radiation and are considered very safe, dentists still take necessary precautions to limit the patient’s exposure to radiation. These precautions include only taking those x-rays that are necessary, and using lead apron shields to protect the body.

Q. Are sealants visible?

A. Sealants are only visible up close. Dental sealants may be clear, white or slightly tinted but they are not usually visible when a child speaks or smiles.

Q. How long will sealants last?

A. A sealant can last anywhere from 5-10 years. However, sealants should be checked regularly by your dentist to ensure that they are in still in place.

Q. Will sealants replace fluoride in cavity protection?

A. No. Sealants prevent germs and food particles from getting in between the groves in your teeth by covering them with safe plastic coating but they still need the fluorides, such as those used in toothpaste, mouth rinse and community water supplies to prevent tooth decay. Fluorides and sealants work together to prevent cavities and tooth decay.