Little Blin Rollins has a profound sweet tooth. According to his mother Amy, the boy chooses to drink juice instead of water, and doesn’t turn down almost any kind of sweet treat—from candies to chocolate and ‘gummy stuff’. The boy’s habit led the family dentist to recommend that the former get dental sealants on his permanent molars, in order to stifle tooth decay. What Blin’s mother didn’t know is that her son’s mouth is the subject of a long-standing debate in dentistry.
First off, what is dental sealant, anyway? Typically offered as a service by a local dentist serving areas such as San Diego, a dental sealant is a thin, plastic coating applied on the chewing surfaces of teeth (typically the back teeth, or premolars and molars in this case) in order to prevent tooth decay. A sealant is designed to quickly bond into the grooves and depressions of the teeth, which are somehow too small for toothbrush bristles to reach into, forming a protective shield over the teeth enamel.
Considering the tooth decay situation among American children (nearly 70 percent of kids in the U.S. are affected by dental decay by the time they’re 19), sealants are quite handy. That said, children are ‘perfect’ candidates for dental sealants by age 6 to 12, since this is when their premolars and molars start to erupt. The American Dental Association (ADA) vouches for the sealants’ longevity and effectiveness—if applied properly, sealants will last for several years completely sealing out food and plaque from tiny crevices where they can get trapped and subsequently develop.
Still, a number of concerned parties ask if dental sealants are actually safe for children. Such a query has been raised due to sealants typically containing the compound Bisphenol A (a.k.a. BPA, a resin used in various plastics like water bottles and metal food can liners. However, the ADA itself has gone on record to say that concerns about BPA is overblown—the actual amount of BPA in dental sealants is too low to be considered a significant health concern. BPA has also been found to form on the mouth after sealant application, but scrubbing and rinsing sealants after application can remove 88 to 95 percent of the substances which can become BPA.
Simply put, there’s nothing to fear about dental sealants on children’s teeth. Paired with sound oral hygiene practices (brushing twice a day and visiting a pediatric dentistry office twice a year to monitor sealant placement/bond), sealants are 100-percent effective in preventing cavities. Clinics which service the Poway area, such as A+ Family Dentistry, offer sealants for those interested in reaping their benefits.
Decay Dilemma: Do Kids Need Dental Sealants? NBC News, May 4, 2012
Dental Health: Sealants, WebMD.com
Dental Sealants: Is My Child A Candidate? KnowYourTeeth.com
Dueling Docs: Are Dental Sealants Safe For Kids? Huffington Post, March 18, 2010
BPA From Dental Sealants, Fillings: Is It Safe? WebMD.com
Are Dental Sealants Safe For Kids? TheStir.CafeMom.com, November 6, 2014