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:
- Do the back teeth have deep groves?
- Does your child brush less than two times a day?
- Do they sometimes forget to brush his or her teeth every now and then?
- Do they consume too much sweets, candies or sodas?
- Is your child under the age of 13?
- Do you have dental insurance that covers dental sealants?
- 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.
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When I should NOT place dental sealants on my child’s teeth?