The Age of Decay: Are Dental Sealants the Answer?

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The Age of Decay: Are Dental Sealants the Answer?

Nearly 43 percent of children and adolescents (ages 2 to 19 years) in the US have tooth decay or cavities. Although fewer people are getting cavities in recent years, they are still the most common chronic disease for children and teenagers to date.

Tooth cavities, also called dental caries or tooth decay, are formed when bacteria, leftover food particles, and saliva combine into plaque. The acid in plaque dissolves teeth enamel and allows bacteria and acid to get inside.

Unfortunately, the symptoms of cavities only occur when the decay has already progressed significantly. Aside from regular visits to the nearest pediatric dentist in Utah, applying dental sealants on your children’s teeth may also help prevent cavities.

The Deal with Dental Sealants

Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings fitted on the teeth. They keep food particles, germs, and plaques from getting stuck on and in between teeth. Sealants are often applied to the back teeth or molars as these are the ones usually damaged by cavities.

They come in clear, white, or slightly tinted colors and chosen to match the color of the tooth’s surface, so it’s indistinguishable when your child talks, laughs, or smiles.

The procedure to apply sealants is fast and painless. Dentists coat a freshly cleaned tooth surface with a special gel and brushed with sealant resin once it dries. The cost of the procedure ranges between $30 and $60 per tooth. Sealants can last for 5 to 10 years unless damaged.

Although sealants are designed to fit snugly on the tooth, having them on can feel weird or uncomfortable for the first few days. Make sure to alert your dentist if your child’s dental sealant causes them discomfort of pain long after the procedure.

Weighing the Pros and Cons

Patient having a check up

Dental sealants can prevent over 80 percent of cavities and are touted as a relatively affordable and straightforward procedure to prevent cavities. It doesn’t have any side effects, regardless of the patient’s age.

Like any other treatment or procedure, applying dental sealants has its fair share of drawbacks. Sealants can’t help with existing cavities. The procedure is purely a preventive measure. Additionally, not everyone can get dental sealants. Aside from children with tooth decay, adults with tooth fillings are also no longer eligible to undergo the procedure.

Some parents may express concern due to bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical which has been linked to some health conditions. Alternative sealant materials are available but may not be as effective as those with BPA. Some dentists point out, though, that tooth decay treatments may involve more chemicals than BPA.

Starting Them Young

Just because your children get dental sealants, it doesn’t mean they can slack off on proper oral and dental hygiene. It’s still important to instill the importance of tooth brushing at least twice every day and flossing regularly on your kids. Moreover, forming good dental habits help the sealants last longer.

Other helpful dental habits to teach your children are:

  • Eating teeth-friendly food like fresh fruits and vegetables and avoiding too much sugary food like soda and chocolates
  • Drinking fluoridated tap water
  • Using fluoride mouthwash regularly

The benefits dental sealants offer far outweigh any possible drawbacks. Consult your pediatric dentist to make sure your child is eligible for the procedure and help them grow up with cavity-free teeth and a confident smile.

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