When kids get cavities, it can be a real bummer. Tooth decay can cause pain, missed school, or even more serious issues. According to the PEW Charitable Trusts, in 2008 children went to hospital emergency rooms over 215,000 times for preventable dental issues. Those visits cost more than 100 million dollars. Tooth decay, if left untreated can cause tooth loss, infection, and can hinder a child’s speech development. Lost or infected teeth can also prevent children from eating nutritious food. One of the greatest tools available to parents and kids to help prevent decay is dental sealants. Let’s explore what dental sealants are and how they can help prevent tooth decay in kids.
The Process of Tooth Decay
First, it’s important to understand how the process of tooth decay works. Everyone has something called a biofilm on their teeth. It sounds complicated but think of it as all kinds of bacteria woven together to form a thin blanket on the teeth. Biofilms aren’t inherently bad. In fact, we need healthy bacteria in our mouths to help keep the oral environment working properly. Problems occur when we do things to cause the good bacteria die off. When this happens, the bad bacteria start to overgrow and cause damage to our teeth, called cavities.
Researchers have mixed opinions on the best way to treat biofilms on the microbial level, but for someone trying to prevent cavities on a daily basis, you can start by practicing good oral hygiene, eating healthy meals, limiting snacking and consuming sugary foods and drinks and go to the dentist regularly. You should also consider dental sealants.
Dental sealants: a cavity preventing superpower
You may have heard the term before, but what is a dental sealant? A dental sealant is a thin layer of plastic or other dental material that is painted on the chewing surface of the molars. It serves as a barrier, so decay-causing bacteria cannot access the tooth surface. Children without sealants are three times more likely to have cavities in their molars than kids who don’t. Additionally, dental sealants cost 1/3 the cost of a filling. While nothing can replace brushing and flossing, sealants are a powerful protective factor.
Who can benefit from sealants?
Dental sealants are most effective when applied to the permanent molars of children as soon as they come in. But anyone can have sealants placed. Ask Galleria of Smiles if now is a good time for sealants for you or your family.
How much do they cost?
The application of the thin layer of plastic to the chewing surface of the molars ranges from $30-$60 per tooth. But most dental insurance plans cover some of the cost; or check and see if the in house membership plan covers some of the costs. Long-term, sealants will save you money.
What is the procedure like?
Since there’s bacteria on the tooth surface, Galleria of Smiles will thoroughly clean and dry the tooth before applying the sealant. Once the tooth is prepared, he/she will apply a gel that buffs the surface. The gel will be removed, and the plastic material will be painted on. Galleria of Smiles will use a special light to make the layer harden and cure to the tooth.
How to care for dental sealants
Once the sealant is applied you simply brush and floss normally. The layer will remain intact and prevent any bad bacteria from penetrating the tooth surface. Continue your regular dental visits as well to keep an eye on things. The sealants should last for several years. If, and when Galleria of Smiles notices they are losing effectiveness, he/she will discuss reapplication.
Dental sealants to the rescue
Dental sealants are an effective way to prevent cavities in children. The American Dental Association reports dental sealants reduce the risk of decay by 80% in children. Sealants are a fraction of the price of fillings and can provide protection unlike anything else. If you are interested in learning more about dental sealants, call Galleria of Smiles today!