Category Archives: Children’s Dental

Dental Sealants: Risks of Sealants

Why I should NOT place dental sealants on my child’s teeth?

Having gone over what sealants are and how they benefit your child’s oral health, lets now turn our attention towards the risks of sealants:

Dental sealants don’t last very long

Since placing sealants does not involve any grinding of actual tooth structure they are not secured very tightly into your teeth. Sealants are basically painted onto tooth groves as opposed to fillings that are firmly secured in place. As a result, sealants almost always become loose and fall out sooner or later.

Average dental sealants have a life-span of 1 to 5 years. Keep in mind that a well placed sealant could last even loner. However, it’s not too uncommon to see sealants fall off within months or even almost immediately after they are placed. In fact it is very rare to adults with dental sealants in place as they almost always have washed off by this time.

Not every tooth benefits the same from a sealant

Not all of your child’ s teeth will benefit equally from dental sealants. Back molar teeth with deep groves benefit the most from sealant placement. But if your back tooth have shallow groves or flat surfaces, then they won’t trap as much food and plaque. So a sealant probably won’t help them that much.

A perfect example of this is kids who grind their teeth very heavily. These children develop flat teeth surfaces and don’t require dental sealants any longer. Your dentist should first examine your child’s teeth to see if their groves are deep enough to warrant sealants and determine if they are good candidates for them or not.

Placing sealants can actually be harmful for high risk children

Sealants may not work as well for high risk children. Children with numerous cavities who fail to improve their diet and oral hygiene are considered high risk. There may be too many risks of sealants in these cases. High risk children typically require more aggressive and definitive dental treatments than sealants, like fillings or pre-made metal crowns.

Dental fillings are generally preferred over sealants in these circumstances. Sealants won’t be as effective and teeth will continue to trap food and bacteria and develop decay and cavity. In fact the sealants will break and start to contribute to trapping food and plaque and can end up being harmful to children with poor diet or oral hygiene habits.

NEXT >> Deciding on placing sealants or not

When I should place dental sealants on my child’s teeth?

Deciding on Placing Sealants or Not?

7 Questions to help you with deciding on placing sealants or not:

Now that you know what sealants are and what they do, it’s now time to decide if you want them for your child or not. Here is a list of question to better help you with deciding on placing sealants. Please answer each question with either a “yes” or “no“ about your child’s teeth:

  1. Do the back teeth have deep groves?
  2. Does your child brush less than two times a day?
  3. Do they sometimes forget to brush his or her teeth every now and then?
  4. Do they consume too much sweets, candies or sodas?
  5. Is your child under the age of 13?
  6. Do you have dental insurance that covers dental sealants?
  7. Is your child’s dental health considered to be low to moderate risk levels?

Good candidate for placing dental sealants

If you answered “yes” to most of the above questions then your child is a good candidate for sealants.

Questions 1 through 4: Necessity for dental sealants

If your child has deep groves on their back teeth, then they are a good candidate for dental sealants. However, if they fail to keep excellent oral hygiene or if they have a high sugar content diet, then they stand to benefit even more from receiving dental sealants.

Keep in mind that sealants are only effective for teeth which have deep groves. If your child’s teeth have shallow groves and don’t trap any food or plaque then sealants will not serve any purpose after all. Talk to your dentist to see if this may be the case for your child and whether or not they require dental sealants to seal their teeth groves.

Questions 5: Right age

Sealants are most effective for children since they need a little help protecting their back teeth. Different dentists place sealants on different teeth, which means the age range and teeth range can vary. But generally speaking, sealants lose their effectiveness as you become an adult. 13 should be the soft cut-off for placing dental sealants and 16 should be the hard cut-off. If you are older than 16 and you still need help protecting your teeth, then it’s time you received an actual filling in place of a dental sealant!

Question 6: Costs

Paying for dental sealants can be a bit of a headache, especially when you consider that sealants are only temporary. On top of this, sealants always come in pairs of four, like all 4 adult first molars or all 4 baby second molar teeth. As a result your payment is always multiplied by 4 as well! The goal is that paying for sealants could spare you from needing fillings and eventually crowns and root canals. Which is exactly why dental insurances cover dental sealants!

Question 7: Risk level

Sealants are great for low to medium risk patients. If your child has excellent hygiene, a healthy diet and never had a cavity before, then you’re probably weary of any unnecessary treatment being rendered to them. Sealants may sound like a good option to you since they don’t actually damage the teeth and are completely reversible.

But if your child is a high risk patient, sealants aren’t going to be as effective for them. If your child already has dozens of cavities before he or she becomes a teenager, then chances are the teeth scheduled for sealants will develop a cavity sooner or later. Our advice to you is to skip the sealant step and go straight to a filling or crown since this is more or less inevitable for high risk patients.

NOT a good candidate for placing dental sealants

If you answered “no” to most questions above then the benefits of sealants may be minimal.

Final thought regarding deciding on placing sealants

We are always in favor of doing preventive treatment that works well. This is why we are generally favorable when it comes to deciding on placing sealants on your child’s teeth. The fact alone that insurance companies are starting to cover sealants is enough proof of how effective they are in fighting off cavities.

Children get their first adult molar tooth at around 6 to 8 years of age and these teeth are all the way to the back of the mouth. Since a 6 year old’s jaw is hardly large enough to accommodate these teeth, they may end up neglecting these teeth. A dental sealant will help protect this tooth during the period when it is most vulnerable to cavity formation. If just one sealant could prevent a single cavity from forming and resulting in a filling or root canal, then it has more than justified its function.

Keep in mind that often times dental sealants are placed onto children’s adult teeth. Your child gets their first adult tooth while he or she is still only 5 or 6 years old. Now we are talking about adult teeth which must last you a life time. Unfortunately there are actually children who end up with an infected adult tooth as early as 6 or 7 years old. Thus the benefits of a well-placed sealant can be tremendous and well worth the effort and costs.

NEXT >> When I should place dental sealants on my child’s teeth?

When I should NOT place dental sealants on my child’s teeth?

When is the Best Time for Your Childs First Dental Visit: How to Decide

How to Decide?

Answer the following questions:

  1. Do you brush or scrub your child’s teeth daily?
  2. Do you periodically monitor their teeth for cavities to make sure there’s no stains on their teeth?
  3. Are you diluting and taking them off juices and milk gradually?
  4. Do you not allow them to eat too much candies, chocolate, sweets, juices and sodas?
  5. Is this NOT your first child? “no” means it is your first.
  6. If you have other children, did they NOT develop any cavities until they were older?
  7. Is your child healthy with no diagnosed major medical problems?

If you answered “yes” to most of the above questions then you are probably fine waiting a bit longer to take your child in for their first visit. If you’re a first time mom you probably should take your child for an early wellness exam to make sure you’re not making any mistakes regarding their oral hygiene and dietary habits. But if you are an experienced mom, the ones who know when they need braces, when their adult teeth will come out, when they have to remove their wisdom teeth, etc. then you can probably wait until your child is a bit older before you take him or her to the dentist for their first visit provided they your not spoiling them and allowing them to consume too many sodas and sweets!

If you  answered “no” to most of the above questions then you probably should take your child in for a checkup when they are still very young to make sure there are no unpredictable problems or cavities hiding on you.

Final Thought

We think an early consultation is usually worth the effort especially if something is actually wrong. These first wellness visits are typically short and inexpensive and could be quite beneficial. And you just never know what a trained dentist can detect that might’ve gone unnoticed to you. He or she may find a cavity or an early developmental problem. They could advise you to correct their oral hygiene routine if they are building up too much plaque on their teeth. They may instruct you on improving their diet. They can review any oral hygiene products you are using for them. And if nothing else, having an early checkup visit and developing the good habit of going regularly to the dentist can slowly build your child’s ability to cope with going to the dentist.

helpful hint – If your child is scared and refuses to go to the dentist you may end up finding yourself rescheduling and postponing their first visit. How they behave at the doctors office may be a good indicator of how they’ll do at the dentist. So if this applies to you, we do not recommend postponing their visit but it may be wise to research your local dentists to find one that can handle more challenging children. You may want to consider taking them to a child friendly pediatric dentist over a regular dentist as they are probably better suited to manage them. Most general dentists refuse to treat uncooperative children and refer them out regularly so why put your child through a bad experience before doing so!

NEXT >> When is the Best Time for Your Childs First Dental Visit: At 6 Months to a Year

When is the Best Time for Your Childs First Dental Visit: At 2 to 3 Years