Sealants: A Simple Way to Prevent Cavities

***UPDATED: July 27, 2016*** The American Dental Association (ADA) has updated their clinical practice guidelines for the use of sealants on children after reviewing evidence of the practice’s effectiveness. Dr. John Timothy Wright, professor and director of strategic initiative in the department of pediatric dentistry at the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry, said that sealants have been found to be more effective at managing pit and fissure caries than fluoride treatments. The first ADA guidelines on the use of sealants were developed in 2008 and in need of updating. To do so, the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs and the ADA Center for Evidence-Based Dentistry worked with the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry to review a number of clinical trials evaluating sealants. The analysis found that children treated with sealants have an approximate 70 to 80% reduction in the incidence of occlusal caries when compared to kids that did not receive sealants, according to a recent ADA news article. Additionally, there were no reports of any adverse outcomes or health concerns related to the use of pit and fissure sealants.

I recently had a friend ask me about dental sealants. His child’s dentist had recommended them, but without having much background, he chose to do a little research before making a decision.  When weighing any medical or dental options, it’s always smart to do a little homework and understand the pros, the cons, and any side effects that may be involved.  Sealants are simply thin plastic coatings that are applied to particular teeth in an effort to avoid tooth decay.  They are typically applied to the chewing surface of molar teeth to keep germs and food particles out of the grooves commonly found there.  They are best applied shortly after the eruption of the permanent molars, which is usually around the age of 6 for the first set, and age 12 for the second molars.

Some of the most commonly asked questions about sealants surround the application and potential side effects.  When dealing with a child’s mouth, many parents aren’t excited about difficult, long procedures that cause lasting pain or annoyance.  Lucky for them, sealants provide neither.  There is no drilling involved and the process is easy to complete in a short amount of time.  The tooth is first cleaned and prepared before the sealant is painted on.  Often, a light is used to help harden the sealant, which takes approximately a minute.  They can be clear, white, or slightly tinted and are not normally seen when talking or smiling.  Sealants are an alteration to the tooth, so it is very possible that a child will be able to feel the change with their tongue.  But, like anything else, they get used to it with time and soon won’t notice that they are there.  And because they can last from 5 to 10 years, the process is not necessary to repeat often.  Sealants are a painless, quick, and effective method for preventing cavities and tooth decay.

There are many steps involved in creating good oral hygiene habits.  Sealants, combined with regular brushing, flossing, healthy food choices, and bi-annual visits to the dentist, are recommended to maintain a healthy mouth, which studies have shown contribute to one’s overall wellness.  The professionals at Miami Dental Sedation Spa can assist you with any of your dental needs as well as answer any of your questions regarding recommended practices.

Written by Mark Paulsort

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