Are Dental Sealants Safe?
Written By: Dr. Nadia Rivera
If you have kids, it’s a tough pill to swallow when the dentist tells you they have a cavity. It’s even worse when your children are younger. Your dentist will likely suggest dental sealants.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cavities still top the list of the most common oral health problems. At least 45% of adolescents between the ages of 2 and 19 have one or more cavities. These statistics refer to both treated and untreated cavities.
Younger children are particularly vulnerable to cavities since they consume loads of sugary sweets and beverages—plus, their brushing habits could stand improvement. You may find that using dental sealants prevents bad news at dental checkups. If you’re wondering about how safe they are, read on.
What Are Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are no more than thin coatings that are painted onto the surfaces of the molars in the back of the mouth. Applying them can prevent tooth decay for a number of years.
These sealants create a protective shield on the teeth, blocking germs and food. While they don’t stop all cavities, they can protect against 80% of them for 2 years. Dental sealants are effective in protecting against 50% of cavities for up to 4 years in total.
Dental sealants are an excellent preventative measure for your oral health. Be advised, though, that they cannot be used to treat an existing cavity.
Are They Safe?
The biggest question parents ask about dental sealants is if they are safe to use on children. Thankfully, both the American Dental Association (ADA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have confirmed that these sealants are safe for children as well as adults.
While sealants are made from plastic, the benefits greatly outweigh the risks. They do contain a very small amount of BPA, a chemical often found in plastics. Parents often avoid anything with BPA because it can create health problems in babies and children. However, the ADA has reported that there is no evidence that exposure to BPA in dental sealants has adverse effects on health.
If your child has any allergies, you will want to discuss dental sealants in greater detail with your dentist. Reactions related to these are very rare, but knowing all the facts in relation to any particular allergies can help you make the right decision for your child.
Dental Sealants: Helping Enhance Oral Health at Home
Dental sealants last a while, but it is important to note that they are a preventative measure to take for dental care. Applying a sealant doesn’t automatically mean that your child will never have another cavity. It will help lower the chances of getting them, but you will need to help your child learn proper brushing and flossing methods.
Younger children often get cavities between their teeth, a tricky spot to reach. Most can’t use traditional floss properly, which means parents must help them floss every day. You can try a water flosser, but it may not get fully in between teeth that are close together. Manual flossing is the best way to help prevent tooth decay.
With good brushing and flossing habits—plus the addition of dental sealants—you may never have to hear bad news about a cavity again.
When Do Dentists Recommend Dental Sealants?
Your family dentist will likely advise you to have dental sealants applied to your children’s teeth when they are 6 to 11 years old. These are the ages that teeth are three times more likely to get cavities.
But there are other factors that go into the recommendations. Dentists will recommend dental sealants for both children and adults with premolars, molars, and baby teeth that have wear or crevices that make them difficult to clean well.
Think of dental sealants as another safety net to help protect teeth from cavities. With sealants, you may avoid costly dental procedures later on, such as fillings or crowns. It doesn’t hurt to have dental sealant applied. It’s applied with a small brush, similar to a paintbrush, and it takes very little time for your dentist to do.
However, if you or your child are going to have sealants applied, the dentist will need to check and make sure any existing dental problems are treated. For example, if your child already has a cavity, the dentist will need to treat it first before using a sealant.
Are Sealants Permanent?
Dental sealants last a while, but they don’t last forever. As mentioned earlier, they can provide cavity protection up to 80% for two years and then offer 50% cavity protection after that. Most of the time, these sealants can last up to nine years, though vigilant oral care at home will ensure you and your child have a healthy smile.
Take your child to your family dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups. They will keep an eye on new teeth as they come in—particularly the premolars and molars—and recommend sealant for them. These teeth tend to have more grooves, referred to as pits and fissures, which make it easier for decay to occur.
Your dentist can also apply dental sealants on primary teeth, though it is more difficult for younger children to sit still with their mouths open for several minutes. This is why dentists tend to reserve this oral health strategy for children who are more prone to cavities.
Of course, your dentist may recommend that you get dental sealants applied to your teeth as well. As we age, exposure to tooth decay increases. The biochemistry of your saliva changes too, especially when taking certain medications. It’s a wise idea to discuss it with your Hicksville, NY, dentist.
If you have questions about dental sealants and how they may benefit you and your family, you should speak to a dentist to find out more. Seeking a dentist near Plainview, Westbury, Bethpage, Jericho, Meadow, Levittown? Call R+R Dental today and schedule an appointment for dental sealants.