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To Seal or Not to Seal – Dental Sealants for Children

Thu, May 24, 2012

Health, Technology

Sealants were originally heralded as the best thing since sliced bread.  Finally, a painless and effective way to protect our kids from the dentist’s drill!  Dental Sealants are something that are monitored during your dental checkups, but can last for up to five or more years. With the changes to dental insurance coverage, these are often covered under many plans as well, making them affordable to busy parents.  Today, there is some controversy over whether children should use dental sealants for their teeth.

What are Dental Sealants?

The American Dental Association describes sealants as coatings designed to seal out plaque. Because toothbrushes are not capable of reaching all of the areas needed to clean out plaque and, at best, kids are not always the most diligent brushers — this option provides a much deeper range of protection than brushing and flossing alone.  Dental sealants are applied and often last for many years on teeth.

A dental sealant is a coating that is applied to the teeth to coat the chewing surfaces of the molars and protect against pits in the teeth.

The good points of sealants for children are that they:

  • Provide a long lasting protection over the biting surfaces, especially in the early years of learning to brush appropriately.
  • Prevent cavities and plaque buildup by sealing the teeth.
  • Have proven in studies to reduce the decay on the biting surfaces of the molars —  after five years for children with sealants versus those without according to a Cochrane Collaboration study.
  • Are fast, painless and inexpensive so they are a great way to protect teeth and save money in the long run.

So why Is There A Controversy Over Using The Sealants For Kids?

The fear for some parents is that dental sealants contain BPA. This is a chemical that has caused some alarm over the years. However, the FDA considers these compounds safe in minute amounts at this point in time.

Most children’s dentists and parents considering sealants look at the issue from a “risk/benefit” viewpoint.  They feel  that the risk from minute traces of BPA (or its derivatives) are much less of a health risk to their child than the pain and possible side effects of anesthesia and fillings used when there are cavities.

Many companies that produce dental sealants claim to no longer use BPA’s. So, while BPA is a concern for many parents, it is one that is seemingly being addressed by the dental community.

Resource Box

Every parent needs up to date information to make the best decisions regarding their kids dental health.We recommend all parents check in regularly with the American Dental Association  and other trusted dental information sites for the latest information on this and other controversial dental issues.

 

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