A Word about Sealants on Children’s Molars

Sealants on children’s molars protect them from decay. Probably the most difficult part of the mouth to brush and floss is the back of the mouth where the molars are located. Brushing molars can be particularly difficult for children. Further, due to the irregular shape and the roughness of these teeth, they often becomedentist-428646 640 a breeding ground for food, bacteria and cavities. Sealants on children’s molars have become very popular as a way to protect these teeth from food, acid, and bacteria.

Sealants have been described as a “raincoat” for molars. A sealant is a thin, protective coating that attaches itself to the surfaces (particularly the chewing surfaces) of the molars. Sealants are made of dental materials or from plastic. Some sealants are clear and allow your dentist to monitor them for any development of decay. They are also used regularly to protect teeth showing the beginning of decay in an effort to stop the decay from becoming a cavity.

Why Consider Sealants?

Sealants reduce the risk of decay in molars by almost 80 percent.

In a 2016 report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) the agency endorsed the use of sealants for children of school age. The report indicated, however, that only about 43 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 11 actually have sealants on their molars. Specifically, the report said, “school-age children without sealants have almost three times more cavities than children with sealants.” Most dentists recommend that a child’s molars be sealed as they come in (age 6 for first molars; age 12 for second molars). Sealants can also be used for teens and adults.


The application of sealants is a simple and painless process that your dentist can perform in the office. After cleaning the teeth and drying the molars, a gel is applied to the surface of the teeth. This gel contains an acidic compound that makes the tooth surface rough. This makes it easier for the sealant to adhere to the tooth. After mere seconds, your dentist will rinse off the gel and dry the tooth again. The sealant is then applied to the tooth, and a blue light is used to harden the sealant.

Unless a patient is allergic to something in the materials used, there are no side effects of applying sealants. These sealants contain a very small amount of BPA, but not enough to cause any harm. They contain less BPA than a receipt, cosmetics, or dust. Sealants typically last several years, and then need to be replaced.

Some dental insurance covers the cost of sealants; some does not. You might want to check with your insurance provider before your dental appointment so you can have an informed conversation with your dentist. 

Thumb Sucking, Pacifiers, and Your Child’s Teeth

I am often asked how thumb sucking and pacifiers affect a child’s developing teeth and mouth. Is one better than the other? The short answer is no, there is no difference between sucking a thumb, fingers, pacifiers, or child w pacifier - pixabay free commercial use-1506941 640other objects. Sucking behaviors often comfort, soothe, help children fall asleep, and support feelings of security. But they should stop at an appropriate time.

Children usually outgrow sucking behaviors between the ages of 2 and 4. It is important that they stop thumb sucking and sucking on other objects (including pacifiers) before their permanent teeth emerge. Continuing thumb sucking can alter the development of your child’s mouth, the alignment of her teeth, and cause changes to the roof of her mouth.

If your child continues thumb sucking beyond a typical age, or if you begin to notice any changes in your child’s teeth, consult your dentist.  If you are having difficulty helping your child quit thumb sucking or pacifier use, ask your dentist for help.

To your child’s healthy teeth and mouth!

Not a Typical Day!

Geez! We had a new patient from nursing home today. Her appointment was at 2:00. She was promptly dropped off in advance of her appointment. Poor lady really didn't know why she was here. Obviously, she was frustrated as she kept repeating that no one had informed her of the appointment. She was unaware of agraphicstock-disabled-senior-woman-in-wheelchair-at-home-in-her-living-room-looking-out-the-window - SM S X7oEuLM- broken tooth and she really needed to use the restroom as she sat in her wheelchair connected to a tiny oxygen tank.

I was immediately informed we may be facing some unusual difficulties as an upset elderly lady was simply dropped off and needed to use the restroom. I called the nursing home to inquire before meeting the patient. A nurse familiar with the lady answered the phone and seemed equally frustrated. Apparently the daughter was supposed to discuss the appointment with her mother and meet her here. When asking about transporting a wheelchair patient, I explained that we were uncomfortable taking a patient to the restroom. We are accustomed to having a responsible party present to aid in any needed capacity. The nurse asked if we had a CNA, I promptly replied no. I was informed the lady was dead weight and we should not attempt to move her. The next 2 hours were spent with numerous calls for a pick up ride and a lady in desperate need of help.

I wandered across the street to see if their was an available fireman to help. Nope, the station was locked with a sign directing you to the police department. The receptionist there tried not to treat me like a crazy person. She politely listened then wanted to know what I expected??? She called dispatch and was told there was no help available. I was instructed to call 911 if I felt this was a real emergency. Well, not a life threatening emergency, however; the patent adamantly felt this was an emergency. Next step, I crossed another street to the health department in search of a CNA. No CNA's available at the health department, although I did meet a supervisor who agreed not moving the patient was the right thing to do.

Long, long story short, the van arrived about 2 hours later after who knows how many phone calls to retrieve a very angry, confused lady in bathroom distress.

Sadly, this could make the news as lady abandoned in dentist waiting room and not allowed to use restroom. We practice Complete Dental Care. This lady may not have received any dental treatment, however; we did everything we could do to help her. Poor thing was so afraid and embarrassed. She sat in fear of having an accident in the waiting room. We wheeled her into a treatment for to try to spare any more emotional discomfort.

Here is the worst part: even sadder, nurse asked what the big deal was, reported lady pees in her pants all the time.

Genetically Defective Proteins May Explain Some Tooth Decay


According to a recent study conducted at the University of Zurich, there are certain mutated genes that lead Cavities-midrb7tjsl2awrwwu79gn6yuensl5witp860dcue98to defects in the tooth enamel, and, to tooth decay. Enamel is created by development of specific enamel proteins. If there is a genetic predisposition to form defective enamel, the teeth become ready hosts for bacteria to create holes and decay in the teeth. Documents about the study explain that “there is a direct link between mutations in the genetic blueprints for these proteins and the development of tooth enamel defects.”

In other words, tooth decay is not just a result of bacteria in the mouth and on the teeth. When the genetic defect causes enamel to be weak, soft, or otherwise defective, the tooth cannot defend itself against the bacteria.


·Â Â Â Â Â Â The genetic predisposition to formation of defective tooth enamel means that in many cases brushing and flossing regularly might simply not have a chance to protect the tooth from bacteria and decay. In other words, it might not be entirely your fault.

·Â Â Â Â Â Â This understanding of how tooth enamel forms should lead to new oral care products that can slow the effect and progress of to

oth decay in people with this genetic tooth enamel defect.

·Â Â Â Â Â Â This knowledge might explain the tooth decay your dentist or hygienist discovers in spite of careful and regular brushing and flossing.

If you know you are caring for your teeth correctly, and you still develop significant tooth decay, you might want to ask your dentist if this genetic mutation could be the culprit. She will know about new products becoming available that can help you deal with the problem. She might also have other ideas that will help you manage oral care more effectively. 

Managing Dental Phobia

Managing dental phobia applies to people of all ages who are afraid of the dentist. A recent study offered proof that people with dental phobia are more likely to have active tooth decay or missing teeth. They alsodental-tools-in-medical-office  sm - graphicstock BtHMtoXABi found that phobic individuals typically prefer an immediate and short-term solution to problems over a long-term care plan.

It is not surprising that many people with dental phobia are more likely to have tooth decay or missing teeth. Nor is it surprising that people with dental phobia prefer a quick fix that can be completed in a single visit to the dentist over a treatment plan that will require several visits to the dentist.

An important observation is that people with dental phobia tend to report negative feelings far more than those who are not phobic. These feelings include sadness, discouragement, general anxiety, and exhaustion. They are also typically embarrassed by the poor condition of their teeth, and thus do not smile often.

The study also recommends the potential value of dentists creating a dental care program that these patients can follow at home. This should help to reduce the occurrence of acute problems and the number of dental visits required.

There are also other approaches to dental care that many with dental phobia find helpful in managing both their fear and their dental health. Most dentists today offer a range of relaxation and sedation options for phobic patients. We also have experience in creating home management programs for phobic patients.

If you live in Salem, Virginia and you or a loved one is dental phobic, talk with your dentist about options. If you do not have a dentist, give us a call. We help people manage and overcome dental phobia every day.

[Article: The oral health of individuals with dental phobia: a multivariate analysis of the Adult Dental Health Survey ( 2009, Ellie Heidari et al., British Dental Journal, published 20 April 2017.]


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