Are Children’s Dental Sealants Safe and Worth the Investment?
Dental sealants are a long-established preventative dental treatment that has vast potential to fight off tooth decay both in children and adults. Even though it sounds way too good to be true, the stats and facts surrounding it don’t lie. Below, we want to offer you some in-depth information regarding the safe use of dental sealants so you can decide for yourself whether or not it’s actually worth the investment.
What are Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are a painless and non-invasive treatment that is suitable for children of different ages. One of the procedures with the long tradition in children’s dentistry, dental sealants are thin coatings of protective material that are applied on a child’s tooth and fill its fissures, pits, and other vulnerable surfaces to help prevent cavities and other tooth decay. It can be performed by a dentist or a dental hygienist, all depending on the state’s restrictions and regulations. Similar to dental fillings, dental sealants also need to be scheduled for regular maintenance to make sure they last for as long as possible.
What are the Potential Benefits?
While there’s no denying that regular brushing and flossing are bound to keep children’s cavities at bay, dental sealants can play an equally, if not more important role in preventing it. Moreover, if applied meticulously, dental sealants have incredible potential to last for a lifetime. This doesn’t happen that often in practice and they eventually wear away due to numerous factors. Still, depending on the expertise of the person applying them, they have an amazing capability to last up to 10 years, which is a considerable amount of time.
And What About Risks?
Some problems related to dental sealant placements might occur but these are rare. For instance, dental sealants might need to be reapplied if they fall out or wear away. During this procedure, a dentist may polish away any excess material. Also, the biting might feel a bit odd in the beginning, but a person eventually gets used to it, especially when they wear away a bit.
There is also the concern regarding the exposure to a synthetic estrogen or bisphenol A (BPA), which peaks three hours after the procedure but returns to normal within 24 hours. But even with the potential risks, dental sealants are still quite safe and there haven’t been any reported cases of adverse reactions to them in the literature. What is more, American Dental Association claims that “breathing air exposes people to 100 times more BPA than dental sealants”.
The CDC states that dental sealants can prevent a whopping 80% of cavities in the back teeth, where 9 in 10 cavities occur. However, around 60% of children ages 6-12 won’t get the sealants. Also, children that come from low-income families are 20% less likely to get dental sealants. Once applied, sealants protect against cavities for 2 years and continue to protect against 50% of cavities for up to 4 years, with a potential to last for up to 10 years.
When to Get Sealants?
There isn’t a strict age recommendation on when a child should get dental sealants, and it’s best to seek out individual medical advice from your child’s dentist. However, your child should be old enough to be capable of keeping their mouth open for a few minutes during which the sealants will be applied. They can be used even on baby teeth but are most useful for molars and premolars because they have pits and fissures which ensure longer retention in the mouth. Keep in mind that eruption of molars typically happens around 6, 12, and 18 years of age – this can help you plan your child’s dental appointments accordingly.
The Price of Dental Sealants
One of the best things about dental sealants is that they are affordable for almost everyone. They usually cost somewhere between $30-$60 per tooth, but there’s always a possibility to further reduce this price thanks to various dental insurance programs and discount plans.
According to the CDC, applying sealants in schools for about 7 million low-income children who don’t have them could save up to $300 million in dental treatment costs countrywide because this could help avoid more costly procedures such as dental fillings and crowns.
As you can see, the benefits that come with dental sealant applications in children surely outweigh the risks. This procedure is painless, affordable, and offers many long-term benefits to anyone who opts for it. That’s why we decided to give our seal(ant) of approval to dental sealants!
And what is your opinion on dental sealants? Are you considering this procedure for your child? Share your thoughts in the comments below!