If I were to tell parents that we have the technology to prevent tooth decay in children by 90%, don’t you think they would be eager and motivated to have their children visit the dentist as soon as possible? But sadly, about 60% of children ages 6 to 11 years do not get dental sealants even though we all know that in medicine and in dentistry, that prevention of a problem is always better and easier than the treatment of the problem. The preventative measure I am talking about is called Dental Sealants.
School aged children (ages 6 – 11) without sealants placed on their teeth have almost three (3) times as many first molar cavities than those with sealants. Untreated cavities in children cause pain and infection which could lead to problems eating, speaking and learning.
A dental sealant is a thin, plastic coating applied to the chewing surfaces of the teeth – usually the back teeth – to prevent tooth decay. The sealant bonds into the depressions and pits of the teeth, forming a preventative layer over the enamel of each tooth, thus keeping out harmful plaque and acids that cause tooth decay.
Because tooth decay often forms in the grooves and depressions of the premolars and molars, children and teenagers are candidates for sealants. All children should get sealants placed on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as these teeth come in. That way, the sealants can protect the teeth through the cavity prone years of ages 6 to 15.
The procedure is non-invasive and can easily be done without an anesthetic. It is as simple as and similar to a tooth polishing. Once the teeth to be sealed are selected, it’s an easy process for your dentist to apply the sealant. The tooth is conditioned, rinsed, dried and the sealant is painted onto the tooth. A curing light is then used to help harden the sealant.
Yes, absolutely! Dental sealants have been applied to children’s teeth for more than 40 years. Studies have shown that sealants are very effective in reducing tooth decay as well as safe, effective and economical. They are covered by virtually every dental insurance company.
Sealants hold up very well under the force of normal chewing and usually last as long as 5 to 10 years. They need to be checked during the child’s regular dental visits for chipping or wearing and they can be reapplied when necessary.
No, they do not! Fluorides found in the NYC water supply and in toothpastes are also vital in preventing tooth decay. Fluoride works best on the smooth surfaces of the teeth whereas sealants work best on the deep grooves and fissures of chewing surfaces. Sealants, along with fluorides, can work together in the fight to prevent tooth decay in children. But the sad fact remains, about 60% of children ages 6 to 11 years still do not get dental sealants.
Parents, let’s change that statistic! It’s time for those back to school physicals and dental examinations so be sure to call and set up an appointment for your children today.
“A smile is a curve that sets everything straight”. Phyllis Diller