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Dental Sealants: Are They Right for Your Child?

Are sealants right for your child?
Are sealants right for your child?

If you’ve recently brought your child to the dentist for a routine checkup, you might have been advised to have dental sealants put on his or her teeth. Dental sealants are a type of preventative dental care: They seal the biting surfaces of the permanent molars so decay has a hard time taking hold. Usually they can be done during a regular prophylactic visit, right after the teeth are cleaned. Read on to find out more about this procedure so you can decide if sealants are right for your child.

Sealants Stop Decay

The biting surfaces of the molars are usually quite pitted and grooved. Plaque and bacteria can find its way into the tiny grooves in the teeth, and when they do, they get quite cozy. They can camp out there for a while, because it’s difficult to get a toothbrush’s bristles into these tiny little pits. The bacteria can eat away at the tooth’s surface and create dental decay.

Dental sealants seal up those tiny crevices, making it nearly impossible for bacteria to get into them. Sealants last several years, so if they’re put on during childhood when those teeth first emerge, they will often last into the teen years, stopping cavities in their tracks.

Sealants Are Non-Invasive and Easy

Putting sealants on the teeth is a quick and easy procedure. The hygienist will often work with either the dentist or an assistant. He or she will place an etching material on the surfaces to be sealed, which will then be rinsed off. Your child will have cotton rolls placed around the teeth to keep them dry, then the sealant material will be applied to the biting surfaces off the teeth. An ultraviolet light will cure the material, and that’s it! There is no anesthetic involved, and the whole procedure only takes a few minutes per tooth.

Dental Insurance Usually Covers Sealants

Many parents are concerned about whether their insurance will cover the sealants. Most of the time,  yes. Some plans do not cover sealants or do not cover sealants outside of a specific age range. You can call your dental insurance company to find out whether your child will be covered. Your dental receptionist might also have some insight on whether your company usually covers the procedure. Keep in mind, however, that even if the sealants are not covered, the out-of-pocket cost is generally fairly low and will be less costly than repairing cavities in those teeth later.

In almost all cases, sealants are appropriate for kids and teens. Talk to your dentist about whether they make sense for your child. Give us a call if it’s time to schedule your child’s next dental visit and to find out whether it’s the right time to place sealants on his or her molars!

Creative Commons image by Brian (Flickr).

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