Iowa graded out with a C, Nebraska got a D minus. (OK I added the minus) The Pew foundation released a report grading all the states according to how available dental sealants are to the children of that state. Only five states received an A, and twenty states received a D or an F.
The Pew Foundation is an independent non-profit, non-governmental organization that researches and makes recommendations to improve public policy. They recognize that dental sealants are an effective way to decrease cavities in children and adults and ultimately improve the public health and decrease the overall cost of oral health care.
Where Do We Get Cavities?
One of the most common places to get cavities is on the top chewing surfaces of the back teeth in your mouth. These teeth have lots of pits and grooves that collect food and bacteria even when you brush and floss well. Some of the pits and grooves are microscopic, many times smaller than the smallest toothbrush bristle. However, to bacteria these are a giant opening into the tooth, perfect places to make a home and start destroying tooth structure.
Sealants Are Perfect Here
Dental sealants are an amazing way to dramatically reduce the number of cavities you will get. To place a sealant, your tooth is thoroughly cleaned and the sealant material is placed on the top chewing surface where the exposed pits and grooves are. Now the top of your tooth is impenetrable to bacteria. Sometimes a small amount of the sealant material gets on the tooth surface where your upper and lower teeth bite together and your bite feels different for a day or two. This quickly wears down and the sealant material is left in the pits and grooves of your teeth where the protection is needed.
Who Should Have Sealants?
Anyone who wants to avoid getting cavities and needing to have fillings placed on their back teeth. At Lilly Family Dentistry we recommend sealants for children on their back teeth as soon as those teeth are erupted far enough to seal. The first molars come in around age 6-7 and the rest of the back teeth erupt between ages 10-13. For adults, any back teeth that have not had sealants or fillings can usually benefit from sealants. Occasionally we see adults that have not had any cavities and have shallow pits and grooves on their back teeth that may not need sealants.
How Long Do Sealants Last and How Much Do They Cost?
Your sealants will last many years. We have long time patients that have sealants that are over 10 years old. However, your back teeth create a huge amount of force as they chew and over time the sealant material will wear down and need to be replaced. The portion of the sealant that last the longest is the material that is deepest in the pits and grooves of the tooth…exactly where you need the most protection!
Sealants cost one fourth to one sixth the price of a single filling. They are a great bargain and there is no anesthetic injection or drilling on your tooth. People that have their teeth sealed need fewer fillings, crown, root canals and extractions. It just makes for a healthier mouth.
Let’s Improve Our Grade !
While a C is a passing grade, I know we can do better. If you want to know if you or your child’s teeth could benefit from sealants be sure to ask your hygienist at your next checkup. Call Lilly Family Dentistry today to schedule your appointment 712-239-5125.