If your child has a sweet tooth and he's a likely candidate for cavities, ask your dentist about applying dental sealants to his back teeth. No needles or drills are involved. It's a safe, painless way to prevent decay in his first permanent teeth.
What are sealants?
No matter how diligently you brush, sometimes toothbrush bristles miss the little fissures and pits where bacteria hide and multiply. In fact, research shows that 90 percent of tooth decay occurs on the back teeth biting surfaces. Although you still need to use fluoride, brush and floss your teeth, sealants can provide a long-term solution to this problem.
A sealant is a plastic shield that repels germs by coating a tooth's small holes, or pits and fissures.
Cost? It’s free!
Most PPO Dental insurances cover 6-year-old's first molars and 12-year-old’s 2nd molars. The dentists at Signature Smiles recommend doing at least two rounds of sealants, one at 6 years old and again at 12 years old. Adults can also benefit from sealants, especially if your dentist finds tiny cracks on the tops or sides of your teeth.
What’s the sealing process for kids?
The sealing process is brief. The dental hygienist or dentist will clean the tooth with a drying agent and then will paint the sealant on each tooth. The strong covering takes only a minute to form and dry. We will use a blue UV light much like when you go the nail salon.
Sealants are usually impossible to see when your child speaks or smiles. They are clear, white or slightly tinted.
Though you should still exercise proper dental hygiene, sealants provide a long-term solution for dental decay. Unlike fillings, sealants can stay in place for five to 10 years. Fillings, on the other hand, are a short-term solution that will have to be repeated over time. Each time a tooth is filled, more drilling happens and the tooth slightly weakens.
The American Dental Association gave sealants its seal of approval in 1976. While some people have raised concerns that sealants may expose children to the chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, chemicals commonly found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins, the benefits exceed the risks, the ADA says.
Dental fillings are made from silver amalgam, porcelain and composite materials.
The cost for amalgam fillings averages between $110 and $200 per filling. Resin-based composite fillings run between $135 and $240 per filling. Compared to the cost of fillings, sealants are less expensive and definitely worth the investment.
Financial assistance and more
Your child can have the family dentist apply sealants as they are covered under most dental insurances including Texas Dental Medicaid.
The Texas Department of State Health has information for low-income families and individuals on its website. Or you may call your child's school for details.