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A young boy is examined for dental caries.

What Are Dental Sealants?

Can You Seal Out Bacteria?

Ideally, we’d never have a single cavity, either as children or adults. But, as we all know, training children to be regular brushers and flossers is easier said than done, and many adults simply don’t brush and floss daily. One option to help handle bad habits is applying a sealant to teeth, protecting them from neglectful care.

What Dental Sealants Do

A dental sealant is a plastic coating that protects the enamel from acid erosion, coming from foods, drinks and bacterial plaque. As children brush and floss, they may not reach all parts of their mouth, so a sealant applied to the back molars or other difficult to reach spots provides an extra barrier against decay, cavities and tooth loss. Adults may opt for sealants to benefit from an extra layer of protection too! Sealants do not mean, however, that we can stop brushing, flossing and seeing the dentist regularly! They are helpful, but not quite that effective.

Sealants and Fluoride Work Together

Sealants complement fluoride treatments by providing another block against tooth decay. The Placerville Dental Group makes sealants and fluoride treatments available, especially for children. Sealants are safe for all ages, and if our Placerville dentist recommends sealants, they can be applied during a short period of time during a regular cleaning appointment. Sealant is brushed on to each tooth’s chewing surface and inside its grooves. The sealant bonds with the tooth enamel and a blue light cures it quickly so it hardens into a durable protectant.

The Pros and Cons of Sealants

There are pros and cons to all medical procedures, and these will help you decide if sealants are right for you and your family.

Pros of Sealants

  • Reduce cavities;
  • Painless to apply;
  • Covered by most dental insurers.

Cons of Sealants

  • Cannot repair decayed teeth, only help preserve healthy ones;
  • Not permanent, although they last up to ten years;
  • Possible exposure to miniscule amounts of BPA (bisphenol A).

Regarding BPA, it is a hardening component of some plastics that has started to fall out of use since 2008, chiefly due to various studies testing the results of exposure to BPA in animals. To quote WebMD: “Based on other evidence — largely from animal studies — the FDA expressed ‘some concern’ about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate glands in fetuses, infants, and young children.” BPA is not a component of dental sealants, but can be a very minor by-product as the sealants break down.

The American Dental Association has considered the matter and says the following:

The ADA is a professional association of dentists committed to the public’s oral health. As such, the ADA supports ongoing research on the safety of existing dental materials and in the development of new materials. Based on current research, the Association agrees with the authoritative government agencies that the low-level of BPA exposure that may result from dental sealants and composites poses no known health threat.”

To discuss if sealants are right for you or your family with one of our medical professionals, feel free to see us at our Placerville dental clinic, use our contact page here on the website, or give us a call at 530-295-8000.

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