There have been many advances in dentistry over the years, from the introduction of fluoride in drinking water, which dramatically reduced tooth decay in the United States, to the introduction of dental implants and clear braces. Another advance in dentistry, which is having groundbreaking results, is in the area of dental sealants for children’s teeth.
Dental sealant materials were introduced in the late 1960s and have been refined over the years.
Based on years of clinical research, dental sealants are proving to be very effective in preventing cavities in children. The American Dental Association (ADA) reports that sealants on permanent molars reduce the risk of cavities by a whopping 80 percent.1 A 2016 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report also stated, “Dental sealants prevent 80 percent of cavities in the back teeth, where 9 in 10 cavities occur.”2 Based on a thorough review of literature on dental sealants, the ADA, along with the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, recommends the use of pit-and-fissure sealants on the occlusal surfaces of primary and permanent molars in children and adolescents.3 This means that after careful examination of a large amount of published research, both of these prestigious organizations feel that sealants are effective in preventing cavities and should be applied to the back teeth of children and teenagers.
Sealants are effective on molars, or back teeth, because these teeth are both hard to reach with a toothbrush, especially for kids, and they contain a lot of nooks and crannies where bacteria can lurk, eventually causing cavities. A dental sealant is a thin coating, which is either clear or tooth colored, which is applied to the surface of the molars.
Sealants should be applied to both pre-molars and permanent molars, which generally come in around age 6 for the pre-molars and at age 11 for the permanent molars. Sealants have been found to reduce cavities in the back teeth of school-aged children by almost 80 percent for two years; they continue protecting the teeth against 50 percent of cavities for up to four years and have even been found to protect against cavities to some degree for five to ten years.4
Having dental sealants applied is a pain-free procedure. Basically, the tooth is prepared by being thoroughly cleaned and dried. An acidic solution is then painted onto the tooth surface to rough up the tooth so the sealant will stick. After being rinsed and dried again, the sealant is painted onto the tooth and then a special light is used to bond the sealant to the tooth. This simple procedure is way less traumatic for a child than having a cavity drilled and filled.
At one time parents were concerned because dental sealants contain bisphenol A or BPA, which the FDA has “expressed concern” about based on animal studies. Dental sealants do not contain much BPA. The ADA has stated that “although dental sealants can contribute to very low level bisphenol A exposure for a few hours after placement, based on current evidence, there is no health concern relative to BPA exposure from any dental material.”5
Many dental insurance plans cover the cost of dental sealants for children and teenagers under the age of 16. The dental front office staff can check to see if you have coverage for this teeth-saving procedure.
If you are the parent of a child and want to build the foundation for a healthy smile, call our Walled Lake Dental Office today! Our skilled and “kid-focused” approach to children’s dentistry is something you and your children can feel good about. Our Lakes Area Dental Office offers the latest technology in modern dentistry, including a comprehensive list of general, restorative and cosmetic dental care services to meet the needs of your entire family.
A healthy mouth is the foundation to your overall health. Talk to us about your dental needs, we’d love to help. Call today for a dental check-up!
1, 3, 5 Oral Health Topics: Dental Sealants, American Dental Association
2 U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Vital Signs: Dental Sealants Prevent Cavities, 2016
4 What are the benefits of dental sealants? Humana.com