A Guide to Dental Sealants
Dental sealants are an effective and inexpensive way to prevent cavities and preserve the rear molars. Learn more about the ins and outs of this treatment and particularly whether dental sealants for kids are a viable prevention method below!
What are Dental Sealants?
The molars and premolars that make up the back of your teeth contain pit-like grooves that aid in chewing. Over time, these grooves can wear thin due to factors like poor oral hygiene and consuming sugary and acidic foods. When the grooves wear out, the inner chamber of the teeth becomes exposed, leading to cavities and caries.
Dental sealants consist of a liquid resin coating applied over the grooves to prevent bacteria from penetrating the teeth surface. It’s similar to the way mortar is applied over cracks in concrete or pavement to prevent water and debris from seeping in. Dental sealants prevent food debris from reaching the teeth inner chambers, where the acid and/or sugar can induce bacterial growth.
Can Children Get Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants can be applied to children beginning around six years old. This is the age when their permanent molars begin growing. In fact, kids make up the majority of dental sealant patients. While adults may also receive dental sealant treatment, it’s not as common.
Pre-adolescent children are at a greater risk of tooth decay, with 23% of children between ages two and five have one or more cavities. The figure jumps to 52% for children ages six to eight.
How Long Do Dental Sealants Last?
Dental sealants last an average of three to 10 years. The lifespan can vary significantly depending on a number of lifestyle factors. But, you can prolong the lifespan of your child’s dental sealant by doing the following:
- Feeding your child a low-acidic and low-sugar diet
- Limiting your child’s intake of sticky and chewy foods
- Monitoring your child’s brushing habits
- Warning your child against teeth grinding and gnashing
Are There Risks?
Parents may especially be concerned about the safety of dental sealants. The main worry stems from the coating used, which may contain traces of bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical compound used in plastic manufacturing and has been linked to various cancers and diseases.
The concern is certainly understandable. While studies do show that dental sealant gradually releases BPA, traces are minuscule and far too low to be of danger to a young child. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), sealants release about .09 nanograms of BPA. By comparison, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that it would require an exposure of one million nanograms per day for BPA to pose serious harm to a healthy six-year-old child.
Dental Sealant Benefits for Kids
While there’s certainly exposure to BPA, the amount is negligible. The benefits outweigh any perceived risks. According to Colgate, children with dental sealants are three times less likely to develop cavities in their molars. Another report published by ADA found that sealants reduced caries by 75% over two to three years after application.
Furthermore, since the coating is applied on the molars located in the back of the teeth, it’s hardly noticeable. This should ease the minds of image-conscious children.
Finally, dental sealants are cost-effective. This is far more affordable than dental fillings, which are done to restore existing tooth damage. Sealants may also be partially or fully covered by your insurance.
Read also: What is Major Restorative Dental Work?
Prevent Cavities in Your Child
Of course, the best way to prevent dental caries is to practice good oral hygiene, including flossing and brushing your child’s teeth twice a day using fluoride toothpaste, and schedule regular dental checkups.
A routine dental exam with a pediatric dentist in Lafayette, LA, will also reveal whether your child is at risk of cavities. At Maestri Family Dental, we can determine the best course of action, whether your kid needs dental sealants or other preventive measures. Set up an appointment with Dr. Maestri today!