What are Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are made of plastic material that is placed on the fissures and pits of the tooth surface, mainly the molars at the back since toothbrushes cannot reach them to thoroughly clean.
Most children are bad brushes and they often ignore the back part of the mouth which is a common problem area that attract cavity-causing bacteria, leading to decay. These areas are the prime target for sealants. The American Dental Association advises that children receive dental sealants as soon as their permanent teeth erupt.
People who are more susceptible to decay and cavities, whether they’re genetically prone to dental caries, lack access to dental care or don’t have oral hygiene habit, must consider getting sealants as a preventative measure.
How Dental Sealants Work
Dental sealants fill in the pits and fissures of the teeth and smooth out the grooves that tend to trap food residue. The American Dental Association said that sealants work by ‘sealing out’ plaque and food since toothbrush bristle cannot reach all depressions and grooves.
Dental sealants can last for up to 10 years, but you have to check it regularly for cracks. The problem with sealants is that if they are worn down, it is possible for the decay to form under the sealant.
However, dental sealants have been proven to lower the risk of decay and cavities. Coating the biting surface of a molar with a resin-based sealant can lower the risk of developing cavities by up to almost 80 percent right after the procedure, and up to 60 percent for four years or more.
Are Dental Sealants Safe?
If you are a parent, you have perhaps heard the term ‘BPA’, which stands for Bisphenol A. The biggest factor when it comes to safety of dental sealants is BPA, a resin used in many forms of plastics. BPA has been cited as a hormone disruptor and prenatal exposure to BPA is associated with anxiety and hyperactivity in babies.
However, dental sealants do not contain BPA, but many of them contain compounds that change into BPA once exposed to saliva. But dental professionals claim that the amount of exposure is extremely low and can even be further reduced by rinsing and scrubbing sealants after they’re placed.
This issue is still under a heated debate as some dentists believe there is not enough BPA in sealants to warrant any concern while other dentists maintain their stand of preventing exposure of BPA at any level.
If you do opt to have dental sealants, be sure to discuss with your pediatric dentist first about rinsing and scrubbing the sealant once applied.