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.

Application

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.