Dental sealants are dental treatments used to prevent cavities and seal crevices in the teeth. Getting sealants for teeth can go a long way in fighting dental problems that may occur later in a child’s development. The American Dental Association (ADA) maintains that dental sealants for kids and dental sealants for adults are both safe and effective.
Dental sealants are protective, composite seals placed over the crevices of a child’s or adult’s tooth where decay most often starts. They have proven successful in preventing cavities before they start! Because children are always on the go and a little less than conscientious about brushing, and particularly for those who are prone to cavities, we suggest that you consider sealants for them. Even adults can benefit from a tooth sealant.
Dental sealants are invisible plastic resin coatings that smooth out the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, making them resistant to decay. A sealed tooth is far less likely to develop a cavity, require more expensive dental treatment later on, or, most importantly, cause your child pain.
How Sealants Are Placed
You can think of a sealant as a mini plastic filling, though please reassure your child that it doesn't “count” as having a cavity filled. Because tooth enamel does not contain any nerves, placing a sealant is painless and does not routinely require numbing shots. First, the tooth or teeth to be sealed are examined, and if any minimal decay is found, it will be gently removed. The tooth will then be cleaned and dried. Then a solution that will slightly roughen or “etch” the surface is applied, to make the sealing material adhere better. The tooth is then rinsed and dried again. The sealant is then painted on the tooth in liquid form and hardens in about a minute, sometimes with the help of a special curing light. That's all there is to it!
A note about BPA: A 2012 study that received wide press coverage raised concerns that trace amounts of the chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) found in some (but not all) dental resins might contribute to behavioral problems in children. The study authors noted that while they had found an association, they had not actually proven that BPA in dental sealants causes these problems. In fact, BPA is far more prevalent in food and beverage packaging than in dental restorative materials. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association have since reaffirmed their support for the use of sealants.
Taking Care of Sealants
Sealed teeth require the same conscientious dental hygiene as unsealed teeth. Your child should continue to brush and floss his or her teeth daily and have regular professional cleanings. Checking for wear and tear on the sealants is important, though they should last for up to 10 years. During this time, your child will benefit from a preventive treatment proven to reduce decay by more than 70 percent.
Who Should Get Dental Sealants?
Children and teenagers should have dental sealants placed as soon as their molars and premolars come in. This will help protect the teeth during the cavity-prone ages of 6 to 14. Adults can also have dental sealants placed if they do not have decay or dental fillings in their back teeth.
How Long Do They Last?
Dental sealants can last for up to 10 years, but they need to be checked by our dentist at your regular dental appointments. The sealants will be examined for wear and chipping and can be replaced if necessary.
At Dental Associates of Arlington, we review the patient’s oral health and their eating habits to decide whether sealants are appropriate for you or your children. You can contact our local dentist for a dental consultation. Our dental office also serves communities like Arlington, Belmont, Cambridge, Lexington, Medford, Somerville, Watertown, and Winchester.