As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In the dental care world, there’s nowhere that applies more than dental sealants. Sealants can reduce the risk of cavities on molars by 80 percent, according to the American Dental Association. Both the ADA, the Centers for Disease Control and family dentists around the country are proponents of sealants because of their remarkable track record of prevention.
What Are Sealants?
The grooves and pits in molars trap food particles and are prone to cavities. Covering those grooves can have a big impact on cavity prevention. Sealants, made of a composite resin containing special plastic material, are applied to the back teeth, covering and protecting those grooves and preventing cavities from forming.
What Does Getting Sealants Involve? Does It Hurt?
Getting sealants is actually one of the less scary procedures your pediatric dentist performs and is much less stressful than a filling. They’re completely non-invasive and no more uncomfortable than a basic cleaning. Your dentist will apply and then remove a gentle acid to help get the tooth surface ready for the sealant. After the tooth is dry, she’ll apply the sealant in liquid form so it can easily flow into those grooves and pits. Then the sealant is hardened with a special light leaving a protective coating that will last for years.
When Should My Child Get Sealants?
The ADA recommends getting sealants as soon as the first permanent molars appear, usually around age 6. Your child will need another application around age 12 when the rest of her adult molars come in. If your young child is especially at risk for cavities, we sometimes even recommend sealants for baby teeth. Sealants will usually need to be reapplied every five years or so to keep them in good working shape.
Are Sealants Safe?
With all of the hype about the BPA in plastics in recent years, we get questions from parents about whether sealants are safe. The ADA has done plenty of research on the issue and helps put things into perspective. The level of BPA in today’s dental sealants is tiny compared to levels found in food, dust, cosmetics and even the air we breathe. We can say with absolute confidence that sealants are safe.
Are Sealants Covered by Insurance?
Many parents don’t realize that sealants are more and more frequently covered by dental insurance. Insurers understand that preventing cavities can save them money down the road. We recommend contacting our insurance company to check on the details. And remember, even if sealants aren’t covered by your plan, they’re usually more cost effective than treating cavities down the road.
Dental Sealants at NOVA Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics
According to the CDC, children between 6 and 11 years old who don’t get sealants are three times more likely to get cavities. Sealants are beneficial for all children and especially necessary for kids who are at greater risk of decay because of genetic or lifestyle factors. As your child reaches elementary age, it’s a great time to talk with your pediatric dentist about adding dental sealants to your oral health tool kit. Our doctors have decades of experience with this safe, non-invasive procedure.
Remember, sealants are not a substitute for regular check-ups and brushing and flossing at home, but they can go a long way toward helping keep teeth healthy. And prevention is always our number one goal.