Sealants are plastic coatings that protect those difficult to reach pits and grooves on the chewing surfaces of the teeth from the bacteria that cause tooth decay. A quick and painless procedure done in your dentist's office, sealants are applied to the chewing surfaces of permanent molars as soon as possible after they fully erupt in the mouth, usually between the ages of 6 to 8 for first molars and 10 to 12 for second molars. While sealants are not necessary for all children, they are particularly beneficial to children who are at higher risk for tooth decay. But, how do you know if your child is at higher risk?
Although overall oral health risk is a combination of genetics, personal habits and diet, history of decay is a good predictor for future risk of decay. Your child is considered to be at higher risk if he or she has had a cavity filled in the past three years. The good news is you may be able to help prevent future cavities by making sure your child receives preventive care, including having sealants applied to first and second molars.
Although approximately 60 to 70 percent of cavities can be prevented by placing sealants on children's teeth, a recent study by Delta Dental shows that 68 percent of children age 6 to 9 who are at higher risk of tooth decay did not receive sealants on their first molars, and 86 percent of children age 10 to 14 did not receive sealants on their second molars. These figures are particularly striking when you realize that many dental plans cover preventive care, like sealants, at as much at 100 percent of the cost.
Take a look at your plan and make sure you are using preventive treatments to their full advantage - most are simple, painless and inexpensive. They can save your child from future pain and discomfort that often accompany tooth decay, and save you from paying for expensive fillings, crowns, or root canals.
Download our printable flyer on Sealants and Your Child's Oral Health.