Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children. It can cause pain, lead to serious health problems and even impact your child’s speech, school attendance and self-esteem. But there’s good news – You can prevent tooth decay for your child! One of the best ways to do so is to make sure your child gets dental sealants.
WHAT ARE DENTAL SEALANTS?
Dental sealants are thin, plastic coatings that are applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to prevent cavities. The back teeth are most likely to get cavities because small amounts of food and sugars get trapped in the uneven surfaces on the tops of the teeth. Dental sealants prevent this from happening.
HOW CAN I GET DENTAL SEALANTS FOR MY CHILD?
Getting sealants is easy. Just ask your child’s dentist or dental hygienist about getting dental sealants for your child. If you don’t have a dentist, contact your local health department and ask if they provide sealants or if they know a dentist or clinic where you can get them.
Many schools offer a dental sealant program where dentists and dental hygienists visit and provide sealants to children during the school day. Children must have parental consent to receive dental sealants at their school. Click here for a list of schools participating in the Maryland School Sealant Program. (Provide link) Can we create this list?
WHEN SHOULD MY CHILD GET SEALANTS?
Your child should get dental sealants between ages 5 and 7 when their first permanent molars come in. They should get sealants again between ages 11 and 14, when their second permanent molars come in.
DOES INSURANCE PAY FOR SEALANTS?
Yes! Most dental insurance programs pay for sealants, including the Medicaid dental insurance for children, also known as Maryland Healthy Smiles. Many parents do not know that Medicaid offers dental insurance for children. If you do not have dental insurance for your child it might be worthwhile to check with Medicaid to see if your child can receive dental insurance.
HOW ARE SEALANTS PUT ON?
Sealants are painted on the tops of back teeth as a liquid and quickly harden to protect the teeth. Getting sealants is simple and painless. They are put on by a dentist or dental hygienist in a dental office, clinic and sometimes in schools. In Maryland, dentists and dental hygienists can provide sealants in schools with parental consent. (Provide link to list of schools) Can we create this list?
WHY GET SEALANTS?
Dental sealants prevent cavities from forming. The back teeth are the most likely teeth to get cavities because small amounts of food and sugars can get trapped in the uneven surfaces of the tops of teeth. Sealants prevent this from happening.
Fluoride in toothpaste and in drinking water also protects teeth but the back teeth need extra protection. Getting sealants can also save money, pain, and time by avoiding needed treatment like fillings, crowns, or caps to fix decayed teeth.
WHAT CAUSES TOOTH DECAY?
Germs in the mouth use the sugar in food to make acid. Over time, the acid can create decay forming a cavity in the tooth. Tooth decay can be very painful, lead to serious health problems and even impact a child’s speech, school attendance and self-esteem. It is important to prevent tooth decay whenever possible. That’s why sealants are so valuable.
DO THE BACK TEETH DECAY MORE EASILY?
The back teeth (the molars) are the main teeth used for chewing food. The chewing surfaces of the back teeth are rough and uneven to help chew our food. Unfortunately, the uneven surfaces of the molars make them harder to clean. Small bits of food and sugars are more likely to get stuck in the chewing surfaces of the molars and, in time, cause tooth decay.
HOW LONG DO SEALANTS LAST?
Sealants can last up to 10 years. But they need to be checked at regular dental check-ups to make sure they are not chipped or worn away or lost. The dentist or dental hygienist can repair sealants by adding more sealant material to the surface of the tooth.