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Saturday, October 1, 2022
Home Health Seal it up—Dental Sealants 101

Seal it up—Dental Sealants 101

The use of dental sealants is becoming more prevalent in family dentistry. So, what is a dental sealant, and should you use it on your kids’ teeth?

To start, dental sealant is a thin protective coating that is essentially painted on tooth surfaces, most often targeting the rocky tops of back molars, where, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, “food and germs can get stuck in the pits and grooves and stay there a long time because toothbrush bristles cannot brush them away.”

The American Dental Association says that “children and adults can benefit from sealants, but the earlier you get them, the better,” adding that “sealing these teeth as soon as they come through can keep them cavity-free from the start.”

According to the CDC’s 2019 Oral Health Surveillance Report, prevalence of sealants has increased by more than 10 percent, from 31 percent during 1999–2004 to 42 percent during 2011–2016.” The organization also boasts the use of sealant, noting that “School-age children (ages 6–11) without sealants have almost 3 times more 1st molar cavities than those with sealants.”

While sealants are not a substitute for basic brushing and flossing habits the barrier can both prevent cavities from forming as well as from getting worse. Some dentists will recommend putting sealants on baby teeth, especially if the child is prone to cavities or has particularly deep grooves in their molars. It’s good to check with your dentist when your child’s big teeth start coming in to see if he or she recommends it for your child.

Costs for dental sealants range from $30 to $40 per tooth and are often covered by dental insurance. Sealants can last up to 10 years, though dentists will check at each checkup to see if they’re still intact.

Ultimately whether you use dental sealants as part of your family’s oral health care plan is up to you and your dentist. But it’s one more simple tool to keep your family’s teeth healthy.

—Ann Levelle


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