You are most likely to develop tooth decay on the chewing surfaces of your back teeth because of deep pits and fissures that toothbrush bristles simply cannot reach. These susceptible deep grooves will trap particles of plaque and food acids causing weakened enamel and finally, a cavity can form. Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem: dental sealants.
What is a dental sealant?
Dental sealants are a painless, relatively inexpensive and simple procedure to protect the tooth surface from cavities. Sealants are applied to pits and fissures of premolars and molars to create a physical barrier against bacteria and food particles that can cause dental caries. Most sealants are tooth colored and blend so well you cannot even tell they are there! The CDC report states that dental sealants can prevent 80 percent of cavities for two years after application. They also continue to protect against 50 percent of cavities for up to four years. Research shows school-aged children without sealants have a three times more likely chance to develop cavities than children with sealants. As always, patients need to follow up with their dentists to monitor sealants and ensure they are intact and don’t need replacement.
Which teeth should be sealed and when?
Both children and adults can benefit from dental sealants, but the earlier you get them, the more effective. Dentists typically recommend sealants for a permanent molar as soon as they erupt, usually around the ages of 6 and 12. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) says that any baby or permanent tooth that has deep pits or fissures is at risk for decay, and is therefore a candidate for a dental sealant. Candidates for sealants are determined based on their caries risk. These risk factors may include orthodontic treatment, xerostomia from medication, and poor diet and/or oral hygiene.
What is the make-up of a sealant?
Some parents are wary of sealants because ever so often there are news articles that questions the safety of dental sealants because of an industrial compound called bisphenol A (BPA). Research shows that increased exposure to BPA can lead to the adverse health effects. While BPA is a common ingredient in manufacturing many plastics used in dentistry, it is not directly part of the composition of dental sealants. American Dental Association (ADA) research confirms that BPA is not used as a formula ingredient in sealant material, but that a derivative of BPA has been detected in minuscule amounts in saliva. Sealants like Bosworth Sealants contain similar ingredients that a composite filling contain, making them safe and effective. In fact, 96% of BPA we are exposed to is from everyday products like food packaging and paper receipts. Sealants are one of dentistry’s most powerful preventative tools to prevent tooth decay and their benefits far outweigh any potential risk linked with their use.
Exploring the benefits of sealants:
Sealants can be used to treat children, but are also an effective treatment approach for adults. Adult patients who suffer from caries based on a high sugar diet or poor oral hygiene can benefit from the protection of sealants. Many patients take oral medications that cause xerostomia and create increased susceptibility to caries could protect their teeth.
It is cost effective time-wise and financially to consider sealant treatment. The expense of sealants versus aggressive long term dental treatment is a no brainer. While sealants are painless procedure and takes minutes to complete, traditional dental treatment is costly and may be more uncomfortable.
The process of applying dental sealants is completely painless and can even be completed at a regular dental checkup. Teeth are thoroughly cleaned, dried and an acidic solution called Etch is applied to roughen the tooth surface so the sealant can adhere properly. The etch is rinsed away and the sealant is painted directly into the deep grooves of the tooth. A special light is used to help the sealant harden.
New research shows that dental sealants not only help prevent decay, but also can stop decay in its earliest stages. Evidence shows that placement of pit-and-fissure sealants in teeth with incipient carious lesions can significantly reduce the rate of cavity progression. In fact, sealants like Bosworth Sealants release fluoride which is an added benefit in cavity prevention.
Key ingredients in preventing tooth decay and maintaining a healthy mouth includes twice daily brushing with fluoride toothpaste, flossing, easting a well balanced diet and visiting your dentist regularly. Dental sealants are an added benefit in promoting a lifetime of good oral health and keeping patients dental visits happy and pain free!
Dr. Erica Anand, a native Long Islander, received her Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry with Cum Laude from Stony Brook University. She attended Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine where she earned her Doctorate of Dental Surgery degree. While in dental school, Dr. Erica received the Delta Dental award and was involved in the outreach mission to Chile where she treated underserved children and families. She went on to complete a two-year specialty-training program in pediatric dentistry at Stony Brook University. Her extensive education includes treating children with special needs, dental phobias, and oral rehabilitation under general anesthesia. She maintains memberships of the American Dental Association, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and New York State Dental Association, and is an American Board of Pediatric Dentistry Candidate.