Teaching your kids to brush and floss at least two times per day is the best way to help prevent cavities.
But if your child has deep grooves or depressions on the chewing surfaces of the teeth (especially on their molars) a tooth brush can’t always reach those areas.
That’s where sealants come in. A thin, protective coating made from plastic or other dental materials, sealants adhere to the chewing surface of the back teeth and they keep cavities from forming and they can even stop early stages of decay from spreading.
Sealants have been shown to reduce the risk of decay by nearly 80% in molars.
The Centers for Disease Control report that only 43% of children ages 6-11 have sealants. They also report that, “school-age children without sealants have almost three times more cavities than children with sealants.”
In honor of National Children’s Dental Health Month, we are answering some common questions about sealants:
How do sealants work?
When leftover food particles stay in the mouth and/or in the cracks and crevices of the teeth, they produce acids that eventually break down the tooth’s surface and cause cavities. When sealants are applied, they protect the teeth by keeping food particles and bacteria out of those areas.
Are sealants just for kids?
Sealants are great for both adults and children, however it’s best to get them at a young age. First and second molars appear for most kids around the age of 6 and 12 respectively, so protecting them as soon as they come in will help with keeping cavities away.
How are sealants applied?
Sealants are one of the quickest and most painless procedures a dentist can do. After cleaning and drying the tooth, an acidic gel is applied to prepare the tooth so that the sealant will bond properly. They only leave the gel on for a few seconds and then wash and dry the tooth before applying the sealant material. Then they will use a special blue light to harden the sealant.
What if my child already has a small cavity?
If your child has signs of early decay, your dentist may recommend sealants to stop the decay from growing and damaging the tooth. Sealants are made out of a clear material, so your dentist can watch that area over time and make sure the sealant is doing its job.
How long do sealants last?
Sealants most often last for several years. Your dentist will check on them at your regular appointments and if necessary, can reapply if needed.
I’m concerned about BPA… is it found in sealants?
Small trace amounts of BPA can be found in sealants, but not enough to cause harm. You’ll find more BPA in everyday things like cosmetics or dust.
Will my insurance pay for sealants?
Some plans do have coverage for sealants, but mainly for children. Check with your insurance company before calling to make an appointment with your dentist.
Dr. Potts is a gentle, caring dentist uses the most advanced materials and procedures available. He practices comfortable, health-centered dentistry, with a strong emphasis on getting to know each patient. In addition technical proficiency, Dr. Potts is a careful listener. He makes sure to understand what you want and will explain beforehand what treatment is best for your individual needs, along with all options available to you.