The Argument for Sealants
We were pleased that a recent article in the NY Times titled "Defending Your Children's Teeth (and Dentists): The Value of Sealants" mirrored many of our sentiments about the benefits of dental sealants.
Sealants are generally placed on the molar teeth. These teeth are often characterized by deep grooves and pits that are susceptible to getting food, small particles and bacteria stuck on their surfaces. To help protect these teeth from decay, dental sealants can be placed shortly after these teeth erupt into the mouth. A dental sealant is a material that bonds to the deep grooves on teeth, leaving the chewing surface smoother and easier to keep free of food debris and plaque.
The NY Times article discussed two different types of sealant material, resin-based and glass ionomer. At Ferguson Dental Associates we use a glass ionomer sealant. We have found that these sealants are easier to place successfully on the teeth and tolerated better by many of our patients. They can be placed with less isolation, shorter setting time and penetrate into the pits and grooves well. An added benefit of the glass ionomer sealants is a lasting fluoride release that has been shown to continuously release fluoride at the site of application for up to 24 months. This means that the sealants are not just a physical barrier on the tooth, but also strengthen the tooth and make it more resistant to secondary caries. Sealants typically last 3-5 years, but if and when they do fall off, the tooth structure under the sealant is stronger because of the fluoride release. We guarantee sealants for 24 months after application. At your child's subsequent cleaning appointments we will continue to assess the integrity of sealants and reapply as necessary.
Sealants are normally placed by your child's hygienist, following a dental cleaning and exam. We strongly believe that sealants are a great preventative measure against tooth decay, and, as always, we are happy to answer your individual questions about sealants at your next office visit.