If your child is prone to cavities, it's a good idea to speak with your pediatric dentist about strategies to manage this issue. Besides maintaining proper brushing and flossing habits, your dentist might recommend sealants. Dental sealants are resins that can be placed on the chewing surfaces of teeth. These resins protect enamel by sealing out cavity-causing bacteria. The CDC says that, unfortunately, this preventive service is incredibly underused, but if patients take advantage of it, it can help prevent about 80% of cavities over the course of two years. Read on to find more answers to your questions about dental sealants. 

Are They Safe?

Some parents may be concerned about the safety of sealants since they can contain the chemical bisphenol A (BPA). However, the American Dental Association (ADA) has said that there is no evidence that sealants can cause adverse health effects. The main issue is that there is a potential that a patient might have an allergy to BPA; however, these kinds of allergies are uncommon. It's best to speak with your pediatric dentist if your child has any known allergies.

Which Teeth Need Them?

Dental sealants can be applied to both baby teeth and adult teeth, but they are only used on posterior teeth (premolars and molars) due to their anatomy. Posterior teeth contain fissures and pits which can be filled with the sealant resin. Anterior teeth have smooth incisal edges, so these teeth cannot be filled with a sealant material.

How Does Your Child Take Care of Them?

The great thing about sealants is that there are no special care instructions. Your child will brush and floss as they normally would.

How Often Do They Need to Be Applied?

With good dental care, sealants can actually last about a decade, but some children may need new applications after a few years if they

  • Grind their teeth
  • Have poor brushing/flossing habits
  • Chew on ice, hard/sticky candy, etc.

The dentist can assess the condition of the sealants at your child's yearly or bi-annual check-ups.

Can Sealants Be Placed Over Teeth With Fillings?

The purpose of a sealant is to prevent teeth from becoming damaged, so they are not typically placed on teeth that are already damaged and have fillings. Sealants are placed over enamel, while fillings are meant to restore enamel that has been drilled and cleaned of cavities.

Reach out to a children's dentist in your area today to learn more about dental sealants.