Beginner’s Guide: An Inside Look Into Dental Sealants Including Their Uses and What They Are Made Of
We are living in times when nearly all we eat is packed with sugar. Even some “healthy” liquids and energy drinks have high sugar content. Parents will typically pack their children’s lunch boxes with different forms of sugar, from chips to juices.
What most people fail to discern is that sugar is the number one enemy to healthy teeth. Sugary foods are acidic, which attack the teeth often causing cavities very early in children, as soon as the first molars show up.
On the other hand, you cannot trust your toddler to brush their teeth as they as supposed. For this reason, dental sealants were introduced to reduce the chances of children getting cavities. First introduced in the 1960s, dental sealants have reduced the risk of children getting dental cavities by nearly 80%.
However, some parents have been worried about the release of BPA; a compound formed when sealants react with saliva. Before we delve into the materials, let’s see why dentists suggest the use of sealants in the first place.
Why Use Sealants?
Early intervention is important if your children’s teeth are to survive the onslaught of acidic foods. At times when you eat food, the particles become trapped in deep grooves, pits, and fissures, making it challenging for the toothbrush to reach.
Since the mouth has bacteria, the food particles that have remained become a food source for the bacteria, as bacteria digest the food, they release acids, which over time weakens the enamel and eventually causing holes (cavities).
During dental visits, we can check the progress of your children’s teeth. When the premolars emerge, sealants can be applied on the chewing surfaces to help protect them from cavities.
Sealants, In a Nutshell
A dental sealant is a liquid resin (plastic) that is applied on the chewing surfaces of your molars, then hardens on the deep fissures and pits. Sealants can protect your teeth for decades if properly taken care of. However, they are the most effective during the first four years after application.
Picture sealants as a covering or a coating that is applied on the chewing surfaces of the molars. The sealants become the first line of defense against cavities in children.
What Type of Material Is Preferred?
Modern dentistry has made some leaps and bounds in the different areas, including sealants. Several options of sealant materials and delivery systems are available, and choosing the appropriate can prove to be challenging.
Modern sealants are either made of resin or glass ionomer.
There are four generations of resin-based sealants that have been used throughout the years:
- 1st Generation which was set with UV curing
- 2nd Generation which is set using chemical curing
- 3rd Generation which is hardened using visible light
- 4th Generation which contains fluoride
The main debate there is about resin-based sealants is the issue of safety of BPA (bisphenol A), which is released when the sealants react with saliva. BPA is a resin that is commonly used in various plastics, including water bottles.
Resin-based sealants do not contain BPA, but when they come into contact with saliva, they can turn into BPA. The main concern is that BPA mimics the bioactivity of the female sex hormone, estrogen. However, pure BPA is not present in sealants.
When the sealant reacts with saliva and BPA forms, it lasts only for three hours. Therefore, there is minimal risk of low-dose exposure to BPA, which means that there is no need to worry that there will be estrogen-like long term side effects of using sealants.
Furthermore, a quick rinse and wipe done after the dental work is done, it greatly decreases whatever risks remain. Currently, no evidence indicates that sealants aren’t safe.
Glass Ionomer Sealants
Glass ionomer sealants can bond to the dentine and the enamel after using polyacrylic acid conditioner to clean them. This makes them even better in protecting your teeth against cavities. They also contain fluoride, which helps keep the enamel strong and healthy.
Glass ionomer sealants can also prevent cavities even after the dental sealant has come out because the sealants release fluoride.
How Long Do Sealants Last?
Dental sealants are able to last for a long time before they get reapplied. During regular dental checkups, our dentist can monitor them and reapply them if need be. However, using dental sealants does not substitute proper oral hygiene.
You have to continue with the normal routine of brushing twice daily and flossing at least once each day.
Dental sealants are amazing when it comes to preventive dentistry. You can call our dentist at Green Tree Dental if you have any questions or need to book an appointment.