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Answering parents' common questions about dental sealants
Updated: 4/11/2013 10:45:02 AM

Answering parents

In the past few months,  dental sealants have been getting a lot of attention in the dental health industry. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains that dental sealants are thin plastic coatings that are put over the back teeth to protect them from decay. Many schools across the nation have been working to implement sealant programs, since they are often viewed as a low-cost way to help prevent students' teeth from decaying

For example, The Toledo Chronicle, an Iowa news source, recently published an article explaining that seventh graders in the Toledo area recently received sealants on their teeth as part of a new program instituted by Toledo Middle School. In light of this, the newspaper wanted to explain some common facts about dental sealants for adults who do not fully understand sealants and why they are important for children's teeth. 

Sealant basics 
Once parents understand what sealants are and their purpose, they may be wondering how they are applied. Applying sealants is a quick, easy and painless process that does not require any drills or the structure of the tooth to be changed. Once a tooth is cleaned, there will be a special gel placed on it for a few seconds. Then, the tooth is washed off and the sealant is placed on the tooth. The hygienist may shine a light on it to allow it to harden, and then the process is over. 

Parents may also be concerned that sealants will be noticeable, but they can only be seen from very up close and are placed on the back teeth, so it is very unlikely anyone would notice them. 

There's also been a lot of talk about fluoride in the past few years, as some communities have been debating whether this mineral should be added to their water supply or not. According to The Toledo Chronicle, some parents may be wondering if sealants make fluoride obsolete. However, fluoride protects the teeth in a different way than sealants, and the American Dental Association believes that it remains an important part of keeping Americans' teeth healthy, so sealants will not be replacing it. 

The most important question people may have regarding sealants is: Why are they necessary? The Toledo Chronicle explained that decay damages teeth permanently, and sealants can help keep it from occurring. When kids get a cavity, they have to go to the dentist to have it drilled and then filled. A filling is not permanent and only offers a temporary solution to the problem, while sealants may prevent decay from ever happening in the first place. 

The ADA also states that while brushing can help reduce the risk of tooth decay, the bristles of the brush cannot reach deep into the creases of the teeth and remove the plaque that causes bacteria. Sealants can help keep this plaque from forming by keeping leftover food particles from getting lodged in places in the teeth where they cannot be removed. 

Not just for children
The ADA explains that while sealants are primarily used on children's teeth, since young people have a high rate of tooth decay, they can still be beneficial for adults as well. As many adults know, tooth decay doesn't stop being a threat when people turn 18, and some may want to consider getting sealants to help protect their teeth. 

People should talk to their dentists about whether dental sealants are right for them. Sealants can last for up to 10 years and can easily be replaced, so they're a good investment for a person's dental health. 

© 2013 Brafton Inc.


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