Your Questions Answered: Sealants and Flossing

One of the great parts of my job is getting to know our patients and their parents. During an appointment, parents often ask me questions about their child’s oral health. I hear the same concerns repeated quite often, so we are going to start a new blog series to address these frequently asked questions. This month we’ll start by explaining 2 topics that I talk about almost every day: flossing and sealants.

Flossing – Does My Child Need to Be Flossing?

Yes, as soon as two teeth begin to touch, it’s time to start flossing your child’s teeth. Flossing can be tricky for little fingers, so I recommend parents help their kids until they can start managing the task on their own. On average, kids can handle flossing independently around seven or eight years old, but you know your child the best and some kids need supervision until they are a bit older, around 10 years old. One way to make flossing easier is to use flossers instead of dental floss. The flossers are a bit easier to maneuver in a child’s mouth. Also of note, manually flossing your kids’ teeth is more effective than using a water pik.

Sealants – What Are They and Does My Child Need Them?

Sealants are one of the most effective preventative options for avoiding cavities. A sealant is a thin layer of plastic that is placed on your child’s back teeth. The purpose of sealants is found in their name – they create a “seal” over the pits and grooves found on the chewing surface of a tooth. This is the area where food can get caught (even with daily brushing and flossing) and where cavities most commonly form. The sealant fills in that cavity prone area and protects the tooth from decay.

It takes only one appointment to place the sealants, and it is a quick and painless process. Sealants do not require any numbing and your child will be able to eat right after the appointment. We most commonly place sealants on six- and twelve-year molars, and they typically last for many years. Additionally, many insurance providers cover sealants, making it an affordable option for cavity prevention.