There is a reason that in America today pediatric dentists perform more than twice as many sealants as general dentists and hygienists combined. In order for sealants to have the optimum conditions and most potential for cavity-prevention, they should be applied as soon as a child’s adult teeth begin to come in (usually between the ages of 5 and 7). While dental sealants are not a cure-all for the possibility of tooth decay, they can certainly help in preventing it.
What is a sealant?
A dental sealant is a plastic-like liquid that is applied to the biting surface of the tooth. The goal of the sealant is that it covers all the pits and grooves and fissures that could potentially trap food and other bacteria within the tooth. Unlike fillings, sealants are a painless procedure that is preformed to help reduce the likelihood of tooth decay. The steps for applying a sealant to a tooth is relatively simple:
- First the teeth that are to be sealed are thoroughly cleaned.
- Each tooth is then dried, and cotton or another absorbent material is put around the tooth to keep it dry.
- An acid solution is put on the chewing surfaces of the teeth to roughen them up, which helps the sealant bond to the teeth.
- The teeth are then rinsed and dried. Sealant is then painted onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. Sometimes a special curing light is used to help the sealant harden.
Do they have negative side effects?
There have been debates that the exposure to the bisphenol A and BPA found in sealants could be harmful to children. However, the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services has done extensive studies concluding otherwise. They have deemed these concerns unnecessary stating, “This exposure is considered an acute and infrequent event with little relevance to estimating general population exposures.” In the case of sealants, the benefits nearly always outweigh the possibly negative side effects.
Why they’re almost always worth the investment…
In America today, it is safe to say that nutrition has become something that our society as a whole has little grasp of. Foods and beverages are expected to be quick and convenient. Getting the most for your money has become the general mindset in relation to how we feed ourselves. As such, our children are being fed foods that, while they may be cost effective, are anything but nutritionally beneficial. This has lead to diets of fast food and sugary drinks that are packed full of harmful, tooth-decaying preservatives. As such, you can recognize the importance of finding ways to protect our children’s teeth as much as possible. Dental sealants now may be a way of helping save your child from a mouthful of cavities later on (although a change in diet would certainly be a good thing to implement as well).
Over 90% of adult tooth decay is on the biting service of the back molars. Every year, tooth decay can be blamed for problems with heart health, sinus related issues, headaches, and other general health concerns. When you begin realizing the importance of your oral hygiene in relation to the rest of your body, the benefit of dental sealants at an early age becomes clearer. Taking this preventative measure can save your child’s oral health from a world of hurt. Even if your child is in their early teens and has not yet had sealants, it may still be worth talking with your dentist about the possibilities of getting sealants for your child. If your child has a healthy mouth, then getting sealants may still be a viable option, even if they’ve had their adult teeth for a few years. Dental sealants do have the potential to last up to 10 years, but regular check-ups should be scheduled so that your dentist can keep an eye on them. A good number of insurances cover the cost of sealants, so don’t be afraid to ask. Investing in your child’s mouth now, may save you from unneeded grief years down the road (both physically and financially). Just be sure to remember that even with sealants, regular brushing and flossing is imperative to ensuring your child’s mouth stays healthy!