The Benefits of Dental Sealants
Despite the fact that it is almost entirely preventable,
tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children. More than 40
percent of children ages 2 to 11 have had a cavity in their primary (baby)
teeth, and more than two-thirds of 16- to 19-year-olds have had a cavity in
their permanent teeth. Although overall rates of tooth decay have decreased
over the past four decades, decay has actually increased in preschool age
children in recent years.
The good news is there are safe and effective preventive
measures that can protect teeth. Good oral hygiene practices such as thorough
brushing with a fluoride toothpaste can help keep children from getting
cavities. In addition, dental sealants and community water fluoridation are two
other strategies that can help prevent tooth decay.
Dental sealants are thin, plastic like coatings painted on
the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to keep germs and food out of their pits
and grooves. Studies supported have shown that sealants are safe and effective.
But many people don't know about sealants. In fact, less than one-third of
children in the U.S. have sealants on their teeth.
How can you get sealants for your children? Talk to your
dentist about getting dental sealants for your children. Some health insurance
programs pay for sealants; ask your health insurance provider if this is a
covered benefit. Most times sealants are
considered preventive services, covered at 100% of usual and customary fees.
Sometimes sealants are also put on at school. Check with your school about
whether it has a dental sealant program.