Dental Sealants: Pros and Cons

Dr. Reza Written by Dr. Reza Khazaie

Are teeth sealants the answer?

Every parent knows that teaching and helping their children build good dental hygiene habits is important.

Every parent also knows that this task can be tricky.

For parents of young children, teeth cleaning can be an ordeal. Often, young children do not have the motor skills (nor the patience) to brush their teeth correctly or may just neglect to do so. Without a healthy routine of brushing and flossing, children’s teeth are at risk for dental caries or cavities. Primary teeth, also called “baby teeth,” are weaker and less densely mineralized compared to adult teeth and thus are more vulnerable to tooth decay.

Dental sealants

Dental Sealants: Pros and Cons - Willow Pass Dental Care, Concord, CA

For children and adolescents, tooth decay is a significant problem. Nearly half of all children in the United States have had dental caries in their primary teeth. Tooth decay, typically in the form of cavities, is one of the most prevalent diseases in the world. It is, by far, the most common chronic disease in children. This is particularly problematic since healthy, functioning teeth play such a critical role in early childhood development and social perceptions during the teenage years.

Children who lose teeth as a result of tooth decay may have trouble pronouncing words, which can hold back the development of speaking and language skills and make socialization more difficult.

Furthermore, tooth decay and tooth loss may also affect a child’s ability to consume the nutrition necessary to fuel their growth and development. Indeed, tooth decay during early childhood can have an adverse cascading effect that can delay a child’s growth and development, which, in turn, may further slow or delay future growth and development of mental and social skills.

That’s why dentists and dental professionals advise many parents to have their children’s teeth sealed with the use of dental sealants.

What are dental sealants?

Dental sealants (sometimes referred to as teeth sealants) are hardened plastic materials typically applied to the chewing surfaces of teeth to protect them from damage. Because they are designed to protect chewing surfaces, they are most frequently used on molars and premolars. They are particularly useful for protecting the teeth of children who may not have the best dental hygiene routines.

Dental sealant procedure

  1. Tooth preparation: The first step is to prepare the tooth. This involves cleaning and polishing, followed by drying and etching of the targeted teeth.
  2. Dental sealant is applied: Next, the sealant material is applied with a brush and cured with a special curing light. This process typically takes around 30 minutes.
  3. Ensure everything was implemented correctly: Finally, once the sealant material has been applied, the dentist will check the patient’s tooth to ensure everything was implemented correctly and that the patient’s bite hasn’t been compromised. Once the plastic sealant has hardened, the patient can resume their regular eating routine.

Should kids get dental sealants?

Children’s teeth, also known as “baby teeth” or primary teeth, are more susceptible to tooth decay and dental caries than adult teeth. This is because the dental enamel in primary teeth contains lower amounts of minerals and, thus, is more susceptible to the demineralizing effects of acid corrosion and dental plaque.

Dental Sealants: Pros and Cons - Willow Pass Dental Care, Concord, CA

Furthermore, while the surface of your teeth may look smooth and uniform to the naked eye, they are, in fact, full of pits, grooves, and microscopic fissures. These fissures and grooves on the surface of teeth become perfect breeding grounds for bacteria. Dental sealants provide a barrier between bacteria and enamel-destroying substances. They also fill in and even out fissures and grooves to reduce the buildup of bacteria and food debris.

Are dental sealants safe for children?

Dental sealants are not only safe but also highly recommended for many children. They help protect kids’ teeth all day, every day, even when they forget to brush. Sealants provide a physical barrier between bacteria, acid, and other dental nasties and your child’s teeth.

However, some parents may have concerns about the materials used in dental sealant products. In particular, some worry about the BPA content of dental sealants. Many dental sealants are made from products that contain BPA. Although the manufacturing process removes much of the BPA, trace amounts still remain.

Dental Sealants: Pros and Cons - Willow Pass Dental Care, Concord, CA

The American Dentist Association (ADA), however, still recommends dental sealants for children as the benefits for dental health are very clear, and potential exposure to BPA is such as minimal risk. The U.S. National Toxicology Program explains that most exposure to BPA comes from food and drink packaging rather than dental products. Nonetheless, dental sealants do contain trace amounts of BPA, which can be absorbed into the body as the sealant is broken down by wear and tear. These amounts are quite small and should not be of much concern.

The ambition of every parent is to protect their children from harm and give them every opportunity in life to succeed and be happy. When it comes to your kids’ teeth, dental sealants may be the right solution. A little foresight and investment in dental care can go a long way towards protecting your child’s teeth and their smile for many years