Dental sealants are a resin material that is tooth-colored and placed on the chewing surfaces of the teeth to prevent cavities from developing. Sealants can prevent cavities in adults and children for years and maybe the best way to prevent children from developing cavities.
Reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have stated the obvious benefits of the fairly simple and inexpensive procedure of having sealants painted on the teeth of children to protect their teeth from cavities. The procedure for having the sealants applied is affordable and can cost between $ 30-$ 60 per tooth with some insurance and discount plans reducing the prices further.
The trend of getting sealants is still gaining ground but unfortunately, less than half the children have them on their teeth. In the present situation, more children have fillings on their teeth than sealants because tooth decay and cavities are identified as a chronic problem among children. This isn’t to mention the children are more inclined to have dental fillings in their teeth rather than sealants to prevent both cavities and fillings.
Deep fissures and pits exist on premolars and molars of children where microorganisms can easily enter the grooves making toothbrush bristles ineffective because they are too large. These spots become fertile grounds for the bacteria to populate and multiply leading to tooth decay. Sealants have the role of sealing out the bacteria from the grooves and preventing them from entering. After dental sealants are placed on the molars and premolars they can no longer harbor bacteria making tooth brushing effective once again.
Sealants can benefit any teeth that have deep fissures and pits that are most often on the molars and premolars as well as permanent teeth. However, differences will be noted between individuals because not everyone needs sealants on all their molars and premolars and some may benefit from having the sealants on just eight molars.
It is a common belief among people that only children can benefit from sealants because they are generally placed on a child’s molars when they erupt. The truth is however different because sealants are beneficial for any teeth that have deep pits and fissures but have not been filled because of cavities because sealants are a preventive measure for cavities from developing.
Children that already have fillings on their teeth are unlikely to benefit from dental sealants because it is a measure developed for the prevention of cavities and not to safeguard the fillings. Parents of children can certainly go ahead and provide their children with sealants on teeth that haven’t been filled or affected by tooth decay. However, trying to protect a tooth that is already affected will not prove beneficial and will just be a waste of money.
The report published by the CDC states that sealants can prevent 80% cavities for the first two years after the initial application. The protection continues against 50% cavities for the next four years. Sealants can be retained in the mouth for approximately nine years according to the CDC.
Children from low-income households are believed to be 20% less likely to have sealants on their teeth unlike their counterparts from the higher-income households. School-age children without sealants have almost 3 times the cavities than children with sealants proving that sealants are an effective measure against cavities and must, therefore, be applied before tooth decay occurs in the child’s mouth. Children with cavities will unfortunately not benefit from sealants on that particular tooth but can still have the application on their other molars and premolars that are unaffected.
Luv Pediatric Dentistry recommends dental sealants for children during routine exams and cleanings by informing the child’s parents that this is an effective method to prevent cavities and invasive dental work in the form of drilling and filling. The effectiveness of dental sealants has been confirmed by no less than the CDC and the ADA despite several debates raging about the presence of BPA in them. Dental sealants are confirmed as safe and effective against cavities and are recommended as the most non-invasive treatment in dentistry by pediatric dentists for children and adults alike.