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Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital, 11th Floor, 225 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago
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CHICAGO--Sometimes a child has good oral hygiene, but all the brushing in the world can't remove the cavity-causing food particles that become trapped in the molars or back teeth.
Many dentists recommend sealants, which help protect against cavities. A sealant is a plastic resin that is bonded to the surface of primary and permanent teeth. Sealants are perfect for smoothing over grooves in teeth that may trap food and bacteria, leading to tooth decay.
“Sealants are primarily applied to the back molars to protect areas where decay may develop,” said Mary Hayes, DDS, a pediatric dentist in Chicago. “They are effective for children--but they do not protect areas in between the teeth.”
Dr. Hayes explained that applying sealants is an easy procedure that can be done without any discomfort during a regular office examination. Sealants, which were developed in the 1960s and 70s, are most often applied to the six-year molars of children between the ages of 5 and 8, and to the 12-year molars of children between the ages of 11 and 13. Children and young adults should be evaluated on an individual basis by their dentist.
How are sealants applied?
First, the tooth is cleaned and dried, and then the dentist applies the sealant, mixed with a bonding agent, to the tooth. The sealant is then cured or hardened with a light. The patient may be able to feel the change in the tooth's surface, and it may need to be adjusted for comfort. There's no problem with eating food shortly after the sealant is applied.
In most cases, sealants last four to eight years, and patients can have them refreshed after that time, if necessary. A dentist should check the child's sealants during a regular examination.
“Research shows that sealants are a proven and effective means of preventing decay--one of the most common diseases among children,” Dr. Hayes said. “Without sealants, there would be more teenagers today with extensive tooth decay.”
A tradition of working for the dental profession. The Chicago Dental Society was organized in 1864 and incorporated in 1878. The objective of the Chicago Dental Society is to encourage the improvement of the health of the public, to promote the art and science of dentistry and to represent the intrest of the members of the profession and the public that it serves.
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