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Sealing the Deal: Do Kids Really Need Dental Sealants?

If you’ve ever been told by your dentist that your child’s teeth will benefit from sealants, you may be wondering what they are, and if they’re worth the expense. If you’re curious about sealants, here’s a guide to everything you’ve ever wondered about this beneficial treatment option.

What Are Sealants?

Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings that are painted on to freshly cleaned teeth to form an invisible barrier that protects teeth from decay. They are primarily applied to molars, and the procedure is totally painless.


Are Sealants Safe?

Yes! Dental sealants have been used safely for over 40 years. In recent years, parents have raised concerns about the levels of Bisphenol A (BPA) contained in sealants; however, it is important to note that the BPA levels found in sealants are very low, and those levels peak within about three hours of application.

Within the first 24 hours of application, exposure to BPA is completely diminished as the sealants harden.

For parents who still aren’t convinced, consider this: The material used in fillings also contains BPA. Would you rather your child has minimal exposure to BPA in sealed, protected teeth, or in the form of fillings after having a cavity drilled out?

Are Sealants Necessary?

Yes and no. It really depends on the child. For some children, oral care can be tricky. Many children don’t like the taste of even children’s toothpaste and will not sit still for their teeth to be brushed. This can make it difficult to prevent cavities for those children. Also, thanks to diets that are increasingly high in sugar, cavities in children are on the incline overall. In fact, children miss 51 million hours of school a year for cavity-related problems, and tooth decay is the most common chronic illness for children ages 6 to 19. For these children, sealants can be very beneficial. According to the Centers for Disease Control, sealants can prevent 80 percent of cavities for two years after application.

Do Sealants Require Any Special Care?

No. Once hardened, sealants can be brushed, flossed and cleaned by a dentist, just like the rest of your teeth. But don’t think just because your child’s teeth are sealed that they don’t still need to brush or care for their teeth. Sealants will protect better than brushing alone, but brushing doesn’t just prevent cavities, it also helps protect against gum disease and bad breath. Also, because sealants are only usually applied to back teeth, the front teeth will still need to be brushed and flossed regularly.

Are Sealants Expensive?

Sealants cost between $30 and $60, depending on the dentist; however, they can cost significantly less or nothing at all depending on your insurance plan. Some plans will only cover the back molars and allow reapplication every three years at no cost. No matter the cost, sealants are worth the investment in your child’s teeth.

Sealants may seem expensive when you add up the cost to every tooth, but consider this: The average filling costs between $90 and $250 without insurance, and even with insurance most cavities still require some out-of-pocket co-payment. When you consider that kids who don’t have sealants have nearly three times more cavities than kids who do, even paying for three cavities out of pocket could actually cost more than eight to 12 sealants placed on the permanent back molars!

If you have any questions about dental sealants or any other oral care questions or concerns, call Dr. Simpson's office at (910) 550-3959.

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