Dental sealants are quickly becoming the go-to treatment for kids who need extra help in preventing cavities.  Without proper oral hygiene, plaque forms, generating bacteria that produces acids that demineralize the enamel, creating cavities.  According to the ADA, sealants reduce the risk of decay by up to 60% over 4 years.  The reasoning behind sealants is that the chewing surfaces of our molars have deep fissures and cracks in them which normal brushing isn’t always able to clean adequately.  Sealants are said to protect these vulnerable areas from tooth decay by ‘sealing out’ bacteria generating plaque and food.

Dental sealant is a thin, plastic coating painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth – usually the back teeth — to prevent tooth decay.  Sealant materials fall into two main categories based on the type of curing reaction that takes place:

  • Glass ionomers are cured chemically.
  • Composite resins are cured with light activation.

The process has several steps.  It is done by a dentist or dental hygienist:

  • The surface of the tooth is polished to remove plaque and food debris from the pit and fissure surfaces.
  • The tooth is isolated and dried.
  • The surface of the tooth is etched with acid.
  • The etching material rinsed off and the tooth dried.
  • The sealant is applied.

There is some controversy relative to BPA exposure.  Bisphenol A (BPA) is a common toxic compound used in plastic production.  You might recall the uproar of BPA being used in children’s toys and baby bottles (banned by the FDA in 2013).  Very few dental sealants contain BPA these days, but all dental sealants contain BPA derivatives that convert to BPA by reacting with enzymes in our saliva.  However, it is said to be so minimal, that there is more exposure in the air we breathe.  Never before in known human history have we been exposed to so many toxic substances and in such crazy combinations.  The greatest exposure is during application of the sealant, and steps are taken to minimize this.  Given today’s diets that make us more prone to tooth decay, if sealants work to stop decay even 50% of the time (the ADA claims up to 80% in the short term), then perhaps it outweighs any risk.

Another concern is that sealants become worn, crack, and flake off, leaving the tooth vulnerable once again, and the loose material will be ingested by the child.  If dental sealants are worn down, it’s possible for decay to get under the sealant.  Dental sealants can protect the teeth for up to 10 years, but need to be checked frequently by a dentist for cracks.

Dental sealants are a quick, easy, and relatively inexpensive solution for preventing cavities, as compared to the cost of root canals and other dental treatments.

If you are interested in sealants in Costa Rica, fill out the “Find a Dentist” form on this page.  One of our patient advocates will reply to your needs.