Do dental sealants really make a difference? A new CDC Vital Signs report indicates up to 80% of cavities in school-age children can be prevented through the procedure. Evidence indicates they’re safe and effective, so why aren’t more parents using them?
Dental Sealants 101
Kids aren’t known for their diligence when it comes to oral care routines, which is one of the reasons why dental sealants are such a good fit for them. While the application of sealants does not replace brushing and flossing, it can help to prevent bacterial growth in the tight spaces between teeth and along the uneven chewing surface of molars.
Bacteria cause decay, and dental sealants inhibit bacterial growth to prevent cavities. Still, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate only about 40% of kids have them in place. With such a reliable and effective solution available, what’s motivating parents to skip out on dental sealants? In many cases, it’s an understandable but largely unfounded concern about bisphenol A exposure. BPA has been in wide use since the 1960s, and dental sealants do contain very small amounts of the chemical.
With modern sealants clocking in at about .001% BPA or lower, the exposure is minimal. To put it into perspective, a child will be exposed to exponentially higher levels of BPA if they handle paper receipts, breathe air or are exposed to household dust. The trade-off for this negligible exposure is stronger, healthier teeth.
Are Dental Sealants Safe?
In a word, yes. The marginal amount of BPA contained in sealant products dissipates in a few hours, with protection from tooth decay and cavities imparted by the dental sealants lasting for years. American Dental Association testing of 12 widely-used sealant products showed an average release of .09 nanograms of BPA. The United States Environmental Protection Agency cautions against exposure levels exceeding 1 million nanograms per day for the average six-year-old child. The more conservative European Food Safety Authority’s threshold is lower, at 80,000 nanograms per day, but still significantly higher than the miniscule amount contained in a sealant product.
Typical recommendations are for kids to receive dental sealants at six years of age, then again at twelve after molars have erupted. With such tiny amounts of BPA and the relative infrequency of application, the exposure risks of dental sealants are substantially outweighed by their efficacy in preventing tooth decay.
Application is completely painless, as the compound is simply painted onto the teeth. There’s no need for sedation, or any kind of invasive treatment. Since the material is transparent, sealants leave no visible traces behind to mar kids’ shining smiles.
Call us today to discuss the benefits of dental sealants for kids and adults alike with our expert care providers at Pearl Dentistry. We’re dedicated to providing a comfortable environment for the whole family, and complete oral health care to keep everyone’s smiles bright, strong and confident. Our expert care providers can give you more information about dental sealants and other preventative treatments, helping you make informed decisions about oral health.