Decay dilemma: Do kids need dental sealants?

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 05/04/2012 ( 18 moms have responded )

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No question, 8-year-old Blin Rollins has a sweet tooth.

He’d rather drink juice than water and he doesn’t turn down candy, admits his mother, Amy Rollins, 36, of Augusta, Maine.

“He is a big chocolate fan, of course,” said Rollins. “And the gummy stuff, the Mike and Ikes.”

So when her dentist, Jonathan Shenkin, suggested that dental sealants could keep tooth decay at bay in Blin’s permanent molars, Rollins was interested.

“Any type of preventive thing we can do to help keep his smile beautiful, we want to do,” she said.

But what Rollins didn’t know is that her child’s mouth is part of an ongoing debate over whether enough kids get the liquid plastic coverings that protect what Shenkin calls “the most decayed tooth in the mouth.”

Only about 20 percent of children at poverty level and only 40 percent of kids from higher-income homes actually receive recommended sealants, according to studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That confounds Shenkin, a pediatric dentist and spokesman for the American Dental Association. He says decades of research demonstrate that coating the biting surfaces of 6-year molars with a resin-based sealant can reduce cavities by up to nearly 80 percent immediately -- and up to 60 percent for four years or more.

“It’s imperative that as soon as those adult teeth erupt, that they be sealed,” he said.


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My daughter had sealants. They more than likely helped her dramatically. Not because she was allowed tons of juice or candy but because she suffers from low enamel, like her mother. She has had one or two cavities since and they have been very small.

What about your kids? Do they have sealants? Will you be looking into it? Or do you think it is just another money grab?

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[deleted account]

J has sealants on his molars. I thought they were standard, I was surprised to see that only 40 percent of non-poverty kids have them. I can understand the low numbers for those living in poverty, as they will likely get only the bare minimum that is covered by State assistance.

Our insurance did not cover the cost of the sealants--I don't know if that is the norm or not--but a lot of parents who are insured will only get work done that is covered by the insurance. I think that is an odd way to decide what work to have done, but to each their own. The sealants were right at $75/tooth, so in comparison to having a cavity filled (about $200 in our area) this is a great deal.

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MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 05/06/2012

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I really think that is all they do are the molars. I haven't heard of them doing any other teeth. Those are the chewing teeth and they tend to be the ones that get grinded when asleep. I will be getting my sons sealed, my daughter's definitely benefited from having them done. I wouldn't need seals now, since I would only be sealing a bunch of filings. lol

Mrs. - posted on 05/06/2012

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My little brother has the low enamel thing, like my mom. They had to seal all the baby teeth because they would have rotted out. My mother's childhood photos are kind of tragic.

I personally don't think I'll use sealant on my daughter's teeth, with maybe the exception of the molars. Her grandmother works in our dental office and is usually overboard on everything and she thinks it only makes sense to do the molars...unless you have a prob like my little brother's.

Janice - posted on 05/06/2012

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You are super lucky with that Sherri. IDK how different medicaid is from state to state but in NY (I have read) they pay dentists less than half of what they would normally charge so most dentists wont do it.

Janice - posted on 05/04/2012

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I asked about this at my daughter's 1st dental appt. when she was only a year old. I was told it was only done on the permanent molars. I hope we have good dental coverage then. My hubby has very poor enamel and so we will definitely being doing sealants if money allows.

I'm not sure what it is like other places but in my area medicaid includes dental but almost no dentists will accept medicaid. When my daughter had it only one ped. dentist took it and they were so over booked that 6 month check-ups only happened every 8-10 months. There have been a few articles in the paper discussing the issue. Also IDK what each state covers. I'm guessing this may be why so few low income families get it.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 05/04/2012

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Absolutely, I agree with their baby teeth being very important and requiring good care as well...;)

[deleted account]

Oh, that is odd, Sherri. J's are on his adult teeth too--only the 6 year molars. My husband also had his done recently because he has issues with his enamel coating. I have not had mine sealed as I have never had a cavity, but I will consider it later because I know teeth get weaker as we get older.

We did not seal J's baby teeth, but i agree with Sherri, the health of the baby teeth is very important as problems with those teeth lead to poor gum health, which increases risk for problems with adult teeth. That said, I did not know they put it on baby teeth, J's dentist never offered. I also thought it was only put on the molars, none of the front teeth.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 05/04/2012

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hmmm - odd. Why does it matter on baby teeth? They fall out anyhow. The purpose is to ensure their adult teeth do not get cavities.

He says decades of research demonstrate that coating the biting surfaces of 6-year molars with a resin-based sealant can reduce cavities by up to nearly 80 percent immediately -- and up to 60 percent for four years or more.

“It’s imperative that as soon as those adult teeth erupt, that they be sealed,” he said.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 05/04/2012

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Actually, they are put on adult teeth.... permanent molars...

Amy - posted on 05/04/2012

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I wish my dentist had mentioned sealants for my son who inherited his fathers bad teeth. Instead she lectures us like we're the most neglectful parents in the world because he's had a few cavities! Maybe it's time to find a new dentist.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 05/04/2012

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My insurance covers them, as well as fillings. Thank goodness. Sounds like it would be expensive otherwise. ;)

[deleted account]

That is interesting--if they are covered by Medicaid, I wonder why parents are choosing not to get them. May I ask why you chose not to put them on your first after they became available?

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