Who needs dental sealants?
Children are notoriously bad brushers and tend to ignore the problem areas in the back of the mouth that lead to cavities and decay, making them the prime target market for sealants. (However, if adults have certain problem areas that could be cured with sealants, this could be an option for them too.) The American Dental Association recommends that kids receive dental sealants as soon as their adult teeth erupt.
Those who are more susceptible to cavities and decay – whether that is because they are genetically prone to cavities, don’t have great oral hygiene habits, or lack access to dental care – should also consider getting dental sealants as a preventative measure.
Are Dental Sealants Effective?
Dental sealants have been shown to reduce the risk of cavities in the teeth that are covered. According to Jonathan Shenkin, a spokesman for the American Dental Association, decades of research demonstrate that coating the biting surface of 6-year molars with a resin-based sealant can reduce cavities by up to nearly 80% immediately, and up to 60% for four years or more.
Are Dental Sealants safe?
If you’re a parent, you’ve probably heard the buzzword “BPA” quite a few times in recent years. The biggest factor in the general safety of dental sealants is Bisphenol A, commonly referred to as BPA, which is a resin used in many types of plastics. There is some evidence that BPA can be harmful to a child’s health, but it’s not conclusive. This evidence cites BPA is a hormone disruptor and one study tied prenatal exposure to BPA with hyperactivity and anxiety in babies, especially girls. In July of 2013, the FDA banned BPA in baby bottles and children’s drinking cups.
Dental sealants themselves don’t contain BPA, but many of them contain compounds that turn into BPA when they come in contact with saliva. However, professionals claim that “the amount of exposure is extremely low” and can be reduced even further. By scrubbing and rinsing sealants after they are applied, 88% to 95% of the compounds that can turn into BPA are eliminated.
The jury is still out on this one, as some dentists say there isn’t enough BPA present to warrant any concern, while others maintain that you shouldn’t expose yourself to any level of BPA if possible.
The one thing they do agree on? If you do opt for dental sealants, make sure to talk to your dentist first about scrubbing and rinsing the sealants thoroughly once they’re applied.