Georgia – This Tuesday, October 18, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched a report that concluded that 57 percent of children of ages between 6 and 11 do not have dental sealants, which makes them more likely to have low grades in school and develop cavities in their teeth.
The use of the dental sealant protects the teeth in an 81 percent during the first two years since its application. After five years of the sealant being applied, the protection is around 50 and 60 percent. The effectiveness of the dental sealant is of about nine years.
The report of the CDC states that the process of applying the sealants is quite easy and they are not expensive, and are also covered by most health insurances.
However, only the 33 percent of low-income children and children from rural areas in the U.S. can access or receive this treatment. Children without dental sealants could develop oral health problems by age 19.
These children also may develop difficulties for eating, speaking and learning because their teeth are not protected, and the residuals of food can adhere to the pits of the teeth and cause cavities or other oral health problems. These problems could cause children to miss school because of toothaches and make them worse their performance in school.
Dr. Tim Frieden, from the CDC, stated that if dental sealants are applied on children, around 300 million USD will be saved related to dental treatment costs to repair cavities. The lack of this treatment could lead to a filling treatment where the tooth is drilled and filled with resins, making it more expensive than a dental sealant.
Dr. Frieden said that dental care programs in schools are effective but these have not been implemented in most of the schools because of the bureaucratic process to execute these dental care programs.
Also, Frieden alleged that the costs of dentists are elevated, but he proposed to hire dental hygienists whose prices are more accessible in order to promote the settlement of dental care programs in schools, and since the implementation of dental sealants is easy, then dental hygienists are capable of doing it.
Another reason why many children do not have dental sealants is because of the concern of most parents about BPA, a chemical compound that dental sealants contain, that may cause health consequences.
Bisphenol A, best known as BPA, is a solid organic compound used to make mostly plastic from water bottles to dental sealants.
The health risks of being exposed to BPA are linked to fat formation and risk of obesity, structural damage to the brain, alteration of immune function, fertility problems, developing cancer cells and alteration of gender-specific behavior.
Since the discovery of the risks of this organic compound, in 2012 the Food and Drug Administration of the U.S banned the use of BPA on baby products made of plastic.
Also related to the safety of BPA there are environmental risks in the U.S there are more than 1 billion pounds of BPA released to the atmosphere every year. And the exposure of BPA to aquatic habitats may contaminate the water.
Due to the concern of the parents about the dental sealants, Dr. Frieden stated that the quantity of BPA in dental sealants is minimal which represents a small risk to health. Frieden said that there is more exposure to BPA in the environment since humans breathe and eliminate BPA compounds.
Procedure of dental sealants
The implementation of dental sealants is an easy and fast application. The teeth must be perfectly clean or the sealant will not adhere to the tooth.
Then it is used the “Air-abrasion technique” which consist on blowing the teeth so they can dry fast and remove the waste left in the teeth.
Once the teeth are dry, the dentist proceeds to the “enameloplasty,” where a dental drill is used to polish to ensure the teeth are totally clean.
After that, the dentist puts and spreads an acid to prepare the tooth so the sealant can seal better. This is a gel that will act in the tooth for around 20 to 60 seconds. After the time passes the tooth is washed and cleaned to remove the gel. Then the dentist dries the teeth to apply the sealant.
Afterward, the dentist puts the sealant with a brush on the tooth to cover the pits. After the sealant is applied the dentist uses a blue light to seal it and, once finished, the dentist will check the bite to make sure everything was correctly applied.
Source: Los Angeles Times