Archive for September 2016

What Are Sealants?


 

Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings that are applied to the grooves on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to protect them from tooth decay. Most tooth decay in children and teens occurs on these surfaces. Sealants protect the chewing surfaces from tooth decay by keeping germs and food particles out of these grooves.

Permanent molars are the most likely to benefit from sealants. The first molars usually come into the mouth when a child is about 6 years old. Second molars appear at about age 12. It is best if the sealant is applied soon after the teeth have erupted, before they have a chance to decay.

Applying sealants does not require drilling or removing tooth structure. The process is short and easy. After the tooth is cleaned, a special gel is placed on the chewing surface for 30 seconds.   The tooth is then washed off and dried. Then, the sealant is painted on the tooth. The dentist or dental assistant shines a light on the tooth to harden the sealant. 

Sealants can only be seen up close. Sealants can be white, and usually are not seen when a child talks or smiles.

As with anything new that is placed in the mouth, a child may feel the sealant with the tongue. Sealants, however, are very thin and only fill the pits and grooves of molar teeth.

A sealant can last for as long as 5 to 10 years.  Sealants should be checked at each regular dental appointment and can be reapplied if they are no longer in place.

Sealants do not protect between the teeth, only the biting surface on the pits and fissures area of the tooth.  This means your child still needs to flossing daily to avoid interproximal (in between) tooth cavities.  

Image result for baby tooth trauma
Trauma to Baby Teeth
Due to the active nature of children, trauma to the primary teeth (baby teeth) is very common. Most accidents to your child's baby teeth look bad, but may not require immediate attention. Swelling is to be expected and may look worse 12-24 hours after the injury. 

  • Tooth is knocked out  
    Clinical signs: The whole baby tooth is gone from its socket.
    Treatment: Control bleeding with firm pressure from a cloth. Locate the tooth and save for visual inspection by your child’s dentist.  Place the tooth in milk and contact us as soon as possible. Provide over-the-counter pain medicine and soft diet as needed. Contact us for evaluation.

  • Tooth is gray or brown in color
    Clinical signs: Tooth appears darker in color. Up to 70% of injured baby teeth can darken. A dark baby tooth does not always require treatment. These teeth are at a higher risk for dental abscess (infection).
    Treatment: Over-the-counter pain medicine if pain is associated with the discoloration.  Clinical examination and x-ray by us to evaluate for a dental abscess.

  • Tooth hit but not loose
    Clinical signs: These teeth will sometimes exhibit some bleeding along the gum line but no real mobility of the tooth. These teeth will often be sore for 1-3 days but have a very good prognosis. Discoloration may be noted at any time after the trauma. 
    Treatment: Soft diet and over the counter pain medicine (Tylenol) are indicated for initial treatment. Contact us for an evaluation.

  • Tooth hit and loose
    Clinical signs: These teeth will usually exhibit bleeding and bruising of the gum tissue but appear to be in proper position. They may “wiggle” back and forth or side to side. These teeth will often be sore for several days and have a guarded prognosis. Usually they will tighten back to normal in 1-2 weeks. Discoloration may be noted at any time after the trauma and is fairly common with this type of trauma. 
    Treatment: Minimize movement as soon as possible. Check to see if your child can close his teeth together normally. Firm pressure from a washcloth to control bleeding of the gum tissue, soft diet, and over the counter pain medications are indicated as needed. Contact us for an evaluation.

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