Tag Archives: Dental Sealants

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?

Dental Sealants: Benefits of Sealants

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

So you are a concerned mom who took her child to the dentist for a checkup and exam. You were told about the many benefits of sealants on baby teeth. Your child’s dentist explained to you how safe and effective dental sealants are. They might’ve even told you have that if you have dental insurance, then dental sealants are a covered procedure. But is getting sealants really the right thing to do? Or does it make more sense to just leave these teeth alone? Or place an actual filling on them instead?

What are dental sealants?

Sealants are a tooth-colored plastic coating dental restoration. They are considered to be preventive treatment, meaning they don’t require any actual tooth removal and are completely reversible.  They basically acts to seal and protect high risk teeth in children.

Sealants are typically placed into deep groves located on back teeth, particularly molar teeth. Molar teeth have deep groves that are harder to clean and are vulnerable to trapping food and developing cavities. Sealants cover these groves and reduce risks of developing cavities on these teeth. Sealants are typically applied at 5 to 7 years of age to adult first molars and then at 10 to 12 years of age to adult second molars. Some dentists also apply sealants to baby teeth as well.

Dental sealants are mainly used for children rather than adults. This is because it can be harder for children to access their back teeth and clean them properly. As an adult this becomes less of an issue, so sealants are not very useful for adults in general. Sealants usually last for only a few years and by the time you are an adult, your sealant has most likely disappeared. But don’t stress yourself, the purpose of dental sealants is to protect your teeth while you are still in your growing phase.

Benefits of receiving dental sealants

Sealants protect children’s most susceptible teeth against cavity bacteria

Back teeth, the molars and bicuspids, have deep groves on their chewing surface. These tend to trap lots of food and bacteria. As a result they are very susceptible to developing cavities. Children are particularly at higher risks for developing cavities on these back teeth:

  • Children are more likely to neglect cleaning their furthest located teeth. This is usually because it is harder to gain access and place the toothbrush in this region since their jaws are still not fully developed.
  • Most children have a sweet tooth and consume sugary products such as candies, chocolate and sodas. This makes their teeth more vulnerable to tooth decay as compared to adult.

Dental sealants come into play here. Children stand to get the most from benefits of sealants. A well placed sealant can cover deeper teeth groves until you child is old enough where they can brush and clean these areas on their own.

Dental sealants don’t damage your teeth

Sealants are generally favored over fillings as a preventive treatment because they don’t require any actual removal of tooth structure. So another benefits of sealants is that unlike fillings, they are completely reversible. Even the most conservative filling will require some drilling and tooth removal. Unfortunately this can be the beginning of a lifetime of problems with the said tooth.

Sealants are an excellent way to help protect teeth without actually damaging it. If your child’s has deep teeth groves which place them at higher risk for cavity formation but has no actual tooth decay, then sealants are preferred to fillings. Keep in mind that once a cavity forms, then you can no longer perform a sealant. You must place an actual filling instead if there is actual tooth decay involved. Sealants are only a preventive measure, and they will not work when there is an actual cavity in place.

Behavioral benefits of sealants on children

Benefits of sealants actually go beyond simply protecting teeth against cavity formation. Your experiences as a child is what makes you into the patient you are as an adult. Experiencing a visit where your teeth are treated without any pain or a needle is a great way for children to build a relationship with their dentist.

A pleasant sealant placement appointment can help them become more comfortable with their dentist. These type of visits also encourage children to improve their oral hygiene routine as well as brush and floss better to help avoid having to get more similar dental work done in the future. Especially ones that unlike sealants, will involve getting a shot!

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

Deciding on placing sealants or not