We all want to do what we can to keep our children’s teeth as healthy as possible, which often includes “new and improved” procedures. Unfortunately, “new and improved” is not always better. We often find out years later that the new procedure or product is actually harmful. Well, sealants, as it turns out, are not really all that new. They have been in use long enough for new parents to have confidence in the safety of the procedure and in the sealants used.
The substance used to coat and protect your child’s teeth is a type of plastic. It does contain Bisphenol A (BPA); however, it has been proven to be safe. Yes, Health Canada is banning the use of BPA in certain products like baby bottles and baby formula containers. It is still considered safe for use in tooth sealants, though.
According to the Canadian Dental Association, “No restrictions are planned for dental materials because they are well within safety margins.”
In fact, based on research conducted by Dr. Amir Azarpazhooh, DDS, MSC, researcher for the Community Dental Health Services Research Unit, your child will probably ingest more BPA from drinking soda pop and eating canned food than from tooth sealants.
How Tooth Sealants Work
A tooth sealant coats the tooth, especially the small pits and fissures where bacteria, food and plaque are more likely to get stuck. These tiny weak areas are very difficult to keep clean, especially for a child.
Having a sealant applied does not mean your child doesn’t have to brush carefully, though. He or she should still be taught how to brush thoroughly, with a small amount of fluoride toothpaste, and floss.
When to Have a Sealant Applied
Sealants are usually applied to a child’s teeth right after they erupt. Getting the coating applied right away will provide immediate protection. You should discuss this with your dentist.
The Canadian Dental Association points out that, “… some adults with a high risk of decay can benefit from sealants as well.”
The sealant commonly needs to be reapplied every few years. The dentist will check this when you take your child in for check-ups and let you know when it is time to apply the sealant again.
How Unpleasant is the Procedure
Having a sealant applied is not unpleasant at all. Following is the usual procedure:
- Your dentist will clean your child’s teeth.
- The liquid sealant will be painted on the child’s teeth.
- The sealant will quickly harden.
A 30-second rinse after the sealant hardens is recommended to reduce the amount of unhardened or “unpolymerized” BPA that could be ingested by the child.