Dental Sealants...When, Why, How??
What is a Dental Sealant?
*Sealants are a plastic material that can be placed on the chewing surfaces of the back permanent teeth. The sealant flows into the grooves and bonds to the tooth, forming a thin covering that keeps out plaque and food debris.
Why should teeth be sealed?
*The back teeth are full of deep depressions and grooves that are tough to keep clean. Toothbrush bristles can’t always reach the base of these grooves. If plaque and food debris are left in these deep grooves, it can eventually cause a cavity!
What teeth should be sealed and when?
*Dentists often recommend that sealants are placed on the back permanent molars. These teeth have the deepest grooves and are more difficult to clean because they are further back in the mouth.
* The permanent back teeth begin to erupt between 6 and 7 years of age(first molars) and again between 10 and 12 years of age(second molars)
Should baby teeth be sealed?
*Placing a dental sealant requires a fair amount of cooperation from the patient. The tooth receiving the sealant must be kept free of moisture and saliva durning the procedure or the sealant won't bond to the tooth. A patient must be able to sit still, stay open and tolerate a dental dam or cotton rolls in their mouth to facilitate the successful placement of a sealant.
*Most children under the age of 5 are not able to stay still, keep their mouth open or tolerate the placement of cotton rolls or a dental dam for this procedure. Therefore, most dentists don't seal baby teeth. If you are interested in having your child's baby teeth sealed talk it over with your dentist.
Will getting sealants prevent all cavities?
*It’s important to remember that sealants only protect the chewing surface of the teeth. To prevent cavities between the teeth remember to floss daily, avoid sugary or acidic beverages and visit your dentist for regular check ups.
Are dental sealants safe?
*Some dental sealants have been shown to contain small amounts of compounds that can turn into BPA when in contact with saliva.
*BPA is a resin used in many plastics. It is not clear whether the amount of BPA from these filling and sealant materials pose any health risk. It was also found that a thorough rinse after placement of plastic fillings or sealants removes 87-95% of the compounds that can turn into BPA.
*If you are concerned about your exposure to BPA with the placement of white fillings or sealants talk with your dentist. There are ‘BPA Free’ fillings and sealants available.
So...To Seal or not to Seal?
*Make sure and discuss with your dentist the need for sealants, when to place sealants, and any concerns you may have.
*Once you have had this discussion with your dentist you can make an informed decision about the placement of dental sealants!