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Sealing Out Tooth Decay

Tooth decay has become increasingly prevalent in preschoolers.  Not only is tooth decay unpleasant and painful, it can also lead to more serious problems like premature tooth loss and childhood periodontal disease.

Dental sealants are an important tool in preventing childhood caries (cavities) and tooth decay.  Especially when used in combination with other preventative measures, like biannual checkups and an excellent daily home care routine, sealants can bolster the mouth’s natural defenses, and keep smiles healthy.

How do sealants protect children’s teeth?

In general, dental sealants are used to protect molars from oral bacteria and harmful oral acids.  These larger, flatter teeth reside toward the back of the mouth and can be difficult to clean.  Molars mark the site of four out of five instances of tooth decay.  Decay-causing bacteria often inhabit the nooks and crannies (pits and fissures) found on the chewing surfaces of the molars.  These areas are extremely difficult to access with a regular toothbrush.

If the pediatric dentist evaluates a child to be at high risk for tooth decay, he or she may choose to coat additional teeth (for example, bicuspid teeth).  The sealant acts as a barrier, ensuring that food particles and oral bacteria cannot access vulnerable tooth enamel.

Dental sealants do not enhance the health of the teeth directly, and should not be used as a substitute for fluoride supplements (if the dentist has recommended them) or general oral care.  In general however, sealants are less costly, less uncomfortable, and more aesthetically pleasing than dental fillings.

How are sealants applied?

Though there are many different types of dental sealant, most are comprised of liquid plastic.  Initially, the pediatric dentist must thoroughly clean and prepare the molars, before painting sealant on the targeted teeth.  Some sealants are bright pink when wet and clear when dry.  This bright pink coloring enables the dentist to see that all pits and fissures have been thoroughly coated.

When every targeted tooth is coated to the dentist’s satisfaction, the sealant is either left to self-harden or exposed to blue spectrum natural light for several seconds (depending on the chemical composition of the specific brand).  This specialized light works to harden the sealant and cure the plastic.  The final result is a clear (or whitish) layer of thin, hard, durable sealant.

It should be noted that the “sealing” procedure is easily completed in one office visit, and is entirely painless.

When should sealants be applied?

Sealants are usually applied when the primary (baby) molars first emerge.  Depending on the oral habits of the child, the sealants may last for the life of the primary tooth, or need replacing several times.  Essentially, sealant durability depends on the oral habits of the individual child.

Pediatric dentists recommend that permanent molars be sealed as soon as they emerge.  In some cases, sealant can be applied before the permanent molar is full grown.

The health of the sealant must be monitored at biannual appointments.  If the seal begins to lift off, food particles may become trapped against the tooth enamel, actually causing tooth decay.

If you have questions or concerns about dental sealants, please contact your pediatric dentist.

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Testimonials

"My many years of contact with Dr Parminter's office have been OUTSTANDING! Both professionally and friendly, they are the very best. My principal contacts have been with Dr Parminter, Sherri, Jennifer, Cathy and Tammi, of whom I have great respect. I have nothing but pleasant comments for the entire staff."

Joseph Campbell, NASA Eng.

"I have been treated by Dr. Robert Parminter for 20 years for all my dental needs. I highly respect him as a dentist and a man who truly cares about his patients. His staff is world class in every respect and they make you feel like family at all times. I recommend Dr. Parminter to all my family and friends for him to be their dentist."

Lynn Popovich

The following will serve as an affirmative testimonial characterizing the attributes of Robert Parminter, DDS.:
He is a well-trained, Loma Linda educated Whittier Dentist succeeding his Father's established practice which, under his capable management, has flourished and significantly expanded. Well regarded by his local Peers, the following adjectives are appropriate in his description: He is a skilled, conscientious, courteous, available practioner of Dentistry providing outstanding quality care-so much so that many of his patients travel great distances to avail themselves of his care. His office staff is exemplary in the care they provide, treating you "like members of the family." His waiting room is quite adequate in size, has the lates varitey of magazines, beautiful wall pictures and is decorated appropirately for the various holidays. He utilizes the latest Diagnostic-Therapeutic Dental Equipment in providing optimal care. He is very selective in his referals to the more highly trained Dental Specialists requiring special evaluation and treatment. In summary, Dr. Robert Parminter is a very valuable asset to the Whittier Community for its Dental needs and has provided superb quality care to me, members of my family and friends for many years!

Paul P. Deasy, M.D. Emeritus Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology University of Southern California School of Medicine Los Angeles, California

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Dr. Robert Parminter
8937 La Entrada Ave Whittier, CA 90605
Phone: (562) 449-3348 URL of Map