Why Every Child Needs Dental Sealants
No one enjoys having a cavity filled, but there is a way to help in the prevention of cavities. Dental sealants are quickly becoming a favorite tool of dental professionals for helping patients avoid the pain and cost of cavities.
Dental sealants – a thin coating painted on the back teeth – can help to ward off cavities for years. They are especially useful for children, who may not have the dedication to their oral hygiene that an adult does. A study of school-aged children ages 6 to 11 years old showed that those without sealants were 3 times more likely to have cavities in the 1st molars than those who did have sealants.
Luckily, sealants are becoming more readily available and used, although children in low-income households are 20% less likely to have them. To make matters worse, low-income children are also 2 times more likely to have untreated cavities than their higher-income peers.
The problem with this discrepancy lies in the effects of cavities on a child’s life. Aside from being painful, cavities can cause infection and problems with eating, speaking and learning. One way to prevent these problems is for schools to expand their dental health programs to include sealants.
According to the CDC, schools could help children in all income levels by applying school-based sealant programs in lower-income areas where the children are less likely to already have received them. State officials could also track the number of schools and children that participate in the sealant program to gather data on their effectiveness and the desire from the community.
This is precisely the mission of organizations like TeamSmile. We at Cumberland Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics have teamed up TeamSmile with in previous years to provide critical and preventative dental services to underserved children in Middle Tennessee.
One reason to focus sealant initiatives on school age children is the fact that they are most effective when applied soon after their permanent molars come into place, or around age 6 for the first molars and 12 for the second. They are quick and painless to apply and are one of the best preventative measures against cavities in the permanent back teeth.
Along with preventing cavities, sealants can help prevent the financial cost of cavities, helping families put their resources towards other expenses rather than fillings.
Furthermore, many dental insurances help pay for sealants. If your child is insured through TennCare (Tennessee’s Medicaid program), then this service is 100% paid for. If you’re interested in learning more about sealants, or if you have insurance questions, please give your local CPDO office a call, or book your appointment online today!