Young children and teenagers are prone to cavities partly because of their feeding habits (consuming sugary stuff). But, most importantly, because they have poor dental hygiene. Teaching your children proper dental practices is good, but chances are they will still leave a few teeth untouched. This leads to plaque accumulation providing a perfect environment for bacteria to fester.
Maintaining proper dental hygiene is important, but does not suffice when it comes to cavity prevention. You will need other dental measures, and that is where dental sealants come in. At Golnick Pediatric Dental Associates, we offer dental sealants as part of our preventive children’s dentistry services. Below we answer some of the common dental sealant questions we get.
Dental sealants are thin, plastic coating applied on the chewing surface of the teeth. Though they can be used on any tooth, sealants are painted mostly on the molars and premolars to prevent decay. The coating bonds to the teeth, forming a protective shield over the enamel.
The dental sealants are ideally applied to permanent teeth to preserve them from decay and maintain their integrity. However, your pediatric dentist may also recommend sealants for the primary teeth if they are prone to decay. Remember, the primary teeth serve as placeholders and any premature loss could alter the dental structure of the child.
Are sealants only for children? No. Although they are highly recommended for kids, sealants can still be used by adults who are devoid of decay and dental fillings.
The applications of the plastic coating only take a few minutes and the process is painless. The procedure involves:
According to the Center for Diseases Control, dental sealants offer an 80 percent cavity prevention in the first year and 55 percent after that. Furthermore, children who don’t have dental sealants are twice likely to develop cavities than those who do.
According to the CDC, dental sealants can last for ten years. However, certain factors such as acidic foods will affect the durability of sealants. Furthermore, if they are applied improperly, the sealants will come off quickly. It is, therefore, important to have regular dental checkups for the dentist to check the sealants and repair them when necessary.
Yes, dental sealants are made of plastic, which contains BPA or Bisphenol A. BPA has been reported to affect immune, thyroid function and the nervous system. Additionally, the dental sealants can increase the Salivary BPA after application, but the levels will return to baseline levels after 24 hours. Furthermore, according to the Centers for Diseases Control and the American Dental Association, the BPA levels in the sealants are minimal to cause any health complications.
Other than allergic reactions in some people, dental sealants are safe. You may opt for other types, but they will not be effective in preventing cavities.
Most of the insurance companies cover dental sealants for children and teenagers. If you are above 18 years, you may have to cover the cost. But first, check with your health and dental insurance provider.
Sealants are the best, but the dentist can also recommend fillings. Furthermore, you need fluoride treatments which not only prevent decay but also strengthen the enamel.
Once your child’s permanent molars and premolars have emerged (around 12 years), contact our dental clinic for a discussion on which preventive service is ideal for them.