Seal Out Cavities: Exploring the Benefits of Dental Sealants for Kids

Dental sealants save teeth.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than half of children aged six to eight years have experienced cavities in their primary (baby) teeth. And while any tooth can be susceptible to cavities, the real challenge lies in reaching those back molars during brushing and flossing. In this article, we’ll discuss the importance and advantages of dental sealants in protecting your child’s oral health.

What are dental sealants?

Dental sealants are thin, protective coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, known as molars. These coatings act as a formidable shield against tooth decay by effectively blocking out germs and food particles that can lead to cavities. Once applied, dental sealants provide remarkable protection, preventing up to 80% of cavities for the initial two years and continuing to guard against 50% of cavities for up to four years.

In 2016, a panel of experts from the ADA CSA and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) determined a recommended clinical practice guideline based on extensive research. This guideline recommends the use of pit-and-fissure sealants on the occlusal surfaces of both primary and permanent molars in children and adolescents. 

The evidence suggests that sealants are highly effective in preventing and stopping pit-and-fissure occlusal caries lesions (aka cavities) when compared to not using sealants or using fluoride varnishes. 

Busting up some of the common misconceptions about dental sealants.

Let’s clear the air around some common misconceptions about dental sealants:

  • Leakage myth: Sealants are designed to bond firmly to your teeth. They don’t typically leak or wash away easily.
  • Tooth decay concerns: Dental sealants act as protective shields, preventing decay. They don’t cause decay, but block it.
  • Initial cavities: Sealants can be applied over initial cavities, often halting their progression.
  • Fluoride varnish comparison: While fluoride varnish is beneficial, it doesn’t offer the same level of protection as sealants.
  • BPA worries: BPA levels in sealants are extremely low (0.09 nanograms), posing no significant risk. You encounter higher BPA levels from handling receipts and breathing air. Food and drinks expose you to far more BPA (5800 nanograms) than dental sealants. Parents can rest assured, dental sealants are a safe and effective choice for their children’s dental health.

What are dental sealants made from?

Dental sealants are crafted from materials chosen for their safety and efficacy. Manufacturers primarily utilize medical-grade resins, which can be either plant-based or synthetic. Another option is glass ionomers, a blend of glass powder and a water-soluble acid. 

These materials work together to create a protective barrier that shields your child’s teeth from the threats of tooth decay, ensuring a healthier smile for years to come.

The benefits of dental sealants for your child. 

Dental sealants are champions in the fight against tooth decay. Their remarkable effectiveness is just the beginning. Here are some key benefits to consider:

  • Prevention of tooth decay: Sealants create a robust barrier, shielding your child’s teeth from cavities.
  • Long-lasting protection: These protective coatings can endure for up to 10 years with proper care, but regular dental checkups ensure they remain intact.
  • Non-invasive and painless: Applying sealants is a painless process that doesn’t require drilling or discomfort.
  • Cost-effective prevention: Compared to the cost of treating cavities, sealants are a budget-friendly way to safeguard your child’s dental health.

Who can benefit from dental sealants?

Both children and adults can benefit from dental sealants, but the timing matters. Children should ideally receive sealants when their first molars emerge around age six and their second molars appear around age 12. This early intervention helps keep these teeth cavity-free from the start, ultimately saving time and money.

As you become an adult, the nooks and crannies in your teeth become less prominent, reducing the risk of food trapping and decay. Therefore, most adults do not typically require dental sealants.

In summary, sealants offer substantial protection when applied at the right stage of dental development, making them an excellent choice for children. However, for most adults, the need for sealants diminishes as their teeth mature.

Maintaining Dental Sealants 

The beauty of dental sealants lies in their simplicity. They don’t demand special care or attention, but a few good habits can go a long way in preserving their effectiveness:

  • Practicing excellent dental hygiene: Continue your regular oral care routine, including brushing, flossing, and attending regular dental checkups. This is the foundation of preventive dentistry.
  • Avoiding damaging habits: Steer clear of behaviors that could chip or crack your sealants. Chewing on hard foods or non-food items, like ice, can compromise your tooth protection.

By incorporating these habits, you can ensure your dental sealants stay in tip-top shape, safeguarding your smile against cavities for years to come.

Your Child’s Shield Against Cavities

Dental sealants are a simple yet powerful tool in the fight against tooth decay. Their effectiveness in preventing cavities, especially in children, is well-established. Unlike fillings, which address existing cavities, sealants act as proactive guardians of dental health. They are painless, non-invasive, and cost-effective, making them an excellent choice for parents seeking to protect their children’s smiles.

Don’t forget, regular dental checkups ensure your child’s sealants are still intact and doing their job. So, as a parent, remember to schedule your child’s next dental cleaning and keep their precious smiles cavity-free with the help of dental sealants.