Cavity Prevention

Most cavities are caused by a lack of brushing and a diet that is high in sugary foods.  Many cavities can be prevented by an improvement of both diet and dental hygiene. Your Pediatric Dentist can also help prevent decay by using dental sealants and fluoride varnish treatments.


Dental sealants are clear coatings applied to the surfaces of a child’s molars to prevent the development of tooth decay. They work by preventing food and plaque from resting in the grooves and crevices of molars – an area especially susceptible to cavities.

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), dental sealants prevent 80% of cavities in the back teeth, where 9 in 10 of cavities occur.

Fluoride Varnish

Fluoride varnish is a dental treatment that can help strengthen tooth enamel and help prevent tooth decay. The fluoride is applied to the teeth with a small brush. Keep in mind that fluoride varnish treatments cannot completely prevent cavities. This treatment best helps prevent decay when combined with brushing, flossing regularly, getting regular dental care, and eating a healthy diet.  

Is Fluoride Varnish Safe?

Fluoride varnish is safe and used by dentists all over the world to help prevent tooth decay in children.  The fluoride varnish is applied quickly and hardens. There is only a small amount of varnish used, and hardly any fluoride is swallowed. The fluoride varnish is then brushed off after 4 to 12 hours.  

Some tips for cavity prevention:

  • Limit frequency of meals and snacks.
  • Encourage brushing, flossing, and rinsing.
  • Drink only water between meals
  • Avoid sticky foods.
  • Make treats part of meals.
  • Choose nutritious snacks.

Did you know…

Sealants can last as long as 5 to 10 years in pediatric dental patients? Depending on a child’s oral development and risk factors for tooth decay, sealants may be applied to the teeth as young as age 6. It is at this time that the first molars typically appear. Additional molars erupt at approximately age 12. If your child’s cooperation allows, sealants should be applied to a child’s teeth immediately after any molar has appeared to reduce the risk of early decay.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Will dental sealants affect the feel or appearance of my child’s teeth?

Sealants bond directly to the teeth, where they harden to a clear or tooth-colored coat. This makes them virtually undetectable to others. Though it is normal to feel new sealants with the tongue, most children quickly adapt to their presence.

What will my child experience when getting sealants?

The process of getting sealants is fast and painless. The tooth is cleaned before the dentist paints the sealant onto the enamel. The sealant will immediately harden, acting as a barrier between bacteria and the chewing surface of the teeth. In most cases, sealants will last several years before needing to be reapplied. However, regular visits to the dentist will be necessary to monitor the condition of the sealants and examine their effectiveness.

Will sealants prevent all cavities?

While sealants are extremely effective for preventing tooth decay in children, they do not replace other forms of preventative oral health care. Children should still brush and floss each day using a fluoridated toothpaste. Regular dental exams and a balanced diet low in sugar are also essential for good long-term oral health.

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