Parents may find it interesting to learn that my least favorite part of my job as a pediatric dentist is telling a child or parent about a cavity during an exam. My preference would be to always report great cavity-free news, but we know the mouth is a complex microbiological environment always undergoing dynamic changes that sometimes leads to the breakdown of tooth structure and cavity development.
This is one of the main reasons our practice spends a great deal of effort on prevention of cavities. One of the most effective, clinically-proven ways to prevent cavities in permanent teeth is with the appropriate use of dental sealants.
Dental sealants are a thin, protective coating applied directly on the groovy surfaces of permanent molars as an attempt to prevent plaque and bacteria from accumulating deep in the grooves of the teeth. For elementary aged children and older, the most common place for a permanent tooth to develop a cavity is in fact in the grooves of the teeth so it is easy to see why sealants can be so effective.
One research study performed by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry suggested that use of dental sealants decreased a child’s likelihood of developing a cavity by 76% as compared to children without sealants.
The process of applying a sealant is very simple. At our office we compare it to “painting fingernails.” The most difficult part of the process is keeping the tooth totally dry for best adherence to the tooth. Our team can usually complete sealants during a regular cleaning visit in about 10-15 minutes. Our sealant material has been carefully selected among all the various available products on the market for its effectiveness, long-term success, and biological safety as it is a BPA-free sealant material. Some research suggests our sealant material can be effective for more than 3 years if placed and cared for appropriately.
Another great motivator of using dental sealants is they are so successful at preventing cavities, even the insurance company is motivated for you to use them. A large majority of insurance companies pay for 100% of the cost of a dental sealant because their data indicates they are less likely to have to pay more later down the road towards a filling or other complicated dental treatment.
With a success rate of decreasing cavities by 76%, an easy application process, and typically no out-of-pocket cost to you, it is easy to see why dental sealants can be a great option for your child or teen.
Check out our video from Dr. Kennedy explaining the facts about sealants in just one minute!