Do you remember ever getting sealants as a child? Remember those long visits where they had to prep your teeth and seal each tooth individually? Today, sealants are a preventative service recommended for all children as soon as the first permanent molars start to come in. At times, brushing is just not enough. The toothbrush bristles are too big and unable to get into those grooves, allowing for bacteria to continue growing and spreading deeper into the tooth.
According to a systematic review made by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association, “the sealant material penetrates pits and fissures and then hardens, acting as a physical barrier that stops or inhibits the ingress of bacteria and nutrients”. Different offices use different materials such as resin-based sealants, glass ionomer cements or bisphenol- A-glycidyl methacrylate monomers. Here at Central Park West Pediatric Dentistry, we use a glass ionomer cement that contains NO plastic. Glass ionomer cements have been known to be fluoride releasing due to its acid-base reaction when a fluo-roaluminosilicate glass powder and an aqueous-based polyacrylic acid solution are mixed to a creamy consistency. Because of the material it is made up of, fluoride from other sources such as toothpaste and tap water, are absorbed by the sealants and slowly released into the area throughout the day. Another added benefit of the GI (glass ionomer) sealant is its low hydrophobicity, which allows for rapid placement and adhesion with less-than-perfect oral conditions, where younger, not-so- cooperative patients can benefit.
*Before and after sealant pictures of a 6-year-old molar- note how the crevices and grooves are shielded*
The NY Times has written an article on the benefits of sealants and, based on systematic reviews from reputable sources, the information included is definitely note-worthy. Sealants are not only cost-effective but can save time and even discomfort from unrestored cavities. Though these sealants are meant to last approximately three years, normal wear and tear, eating sticky candy such as gummy bears (even gummy vitamins for that matter) and fruit leathers, can pull these sealants off. Regardless, maintenance and care should be taken after investing in sealants.
Though it is not recommended for every child, in some cases, baby teeth and premolars may be recommended for sealants. Normally, the baby molars will stay with your child until approximately 10-12 years of age and hold the space for the premolars which also come in around this time frame. The systematic review goes on to describe that nine studies, of approximately 3,542 participants, resulted in a reduced risk of developing new cavities by 76% for those who did receive sealants versus those who did not.
If you think your child or teenager could benefit from sealants, please give our office a call or ask about them at their next recare visit!
Want to read the NY Times article on sealants? Find it here!
- Evidence-based clinical practice guideline for the use of pit-and-fissure sealants
Wright, John T. et al. The Journal of the American Dental Association, Volume 147, Issue 8, 672 – 682.e12
Disclaimer: Please note, all images found in this article are courtesy of Bing search engine.