If your child keeps getting cavities in his or her teeth, their pediatric dentist may recommend dental sealants. Sealants are simply thin coats of resin that the dentist can apply to the chewing surfaces of teeth. Sealants provide an added layer of protection to the enamel and reduce the chances of cavities. You may have all sorts of questions regarding sealant safety, efficacy, cost, and so on. Read on to find answers to questions you might have.

How effective are dental sealants?

Dental sealants are amazingly effective at protecting against cavities. Once your dentist applies them on your child's teeth, they can protect against about 80% of cavities in the first couple of years and about half of cavities for up to four years. And if a sealant breaks down, your pediatric dentist can always reapply it to your child's teeth. However, sealants aren't a cure-all for cavities; your child still needs to brush and floss.

How much do they cost?

Considering that deep decay can lead to seriously expensive restorations—like implants, root canal therapy, crowns, inlays/onlays, etc., dental sealants are a bargain price. Costhelper says that a single sealant only costs between $35 and $60 per tooth. You may not even have to pay for sealants if you have a dental insurance policy. And if you need help paying for the sealants, there is always Medicaid and school programs for low-income areas. The main caveat is that teeth do need to be cleaned before sealant application, so there is an additional expense for dental prophylaxis.

Is the procedure painful?

Sealant application is painless. Sealants are the way to go, considering that if a child has decay, he or she may need a local anesthetic before a filling can be placed. With sealants, your dentist doesn't need to apply a local anesthetic. Again, the teeth just need to be cleaned and dried before the sealants are placed so that no moisture and/or bacteria is trapped between the enamel surface and the sealant resin. Once the pediatric dentist places the sealants, he or she may be use a curing light to harden the resin.

Are sealants safe for children?

Some parents are concerned about sealant safety because they contain bisphenol A (BPA), a known endocrine disruptor. However, the ADA says children are exposed to more BPA in things like shampoo, food, drinks, body wash, cosmetics, etc., than in dental sealants. The BPA in dental sealants is very low, so this dental procedure is safe for your child.

Reach out to a pediatric dental clinic in your area to get more answers to your questions about dental sealants.