Thursday, July 31, 2008

I'm saying no to dental sealants

We just got back from my son's dental checkup, and the dentist recommended giving him dental sealants on his molars. I didn't quite know what he was talking about...I never had dental sealants.

They explained to me that sealants are an additional aid in preventing cavities. They are plastic or resin and are put in the cracks in the molars to prevent food, bacteria, etc from getting in the tiny cracks and causing cavities.

So I made the appointment and headed home. On the drive home, I was thinking about it. They said my insurance may or may not cover it. That in conjunction with the fact that it is optional and considered an "additional aid" made me think that this might not be something that needs to be done if insurance won't pay the $44 per tooth.

So I went to look online for our dental insurance and did a quick search on sealants at the American Dental Association. Guess what's in dental sealants? BPA. Studies have shown detectable levels of BPA in the saliva of people with sealants. While the American Dental Association says these levels are low enough to be safe, they also say in a publication that only 23% of children in grades 2-3 have sealed molars.

I decided, because of the presence of BPA in sealants, that I wouldn't have my son get this additional service. Right now, I don't feel like the protection against cavities outweighs the possible risks. And while the ADA says the levels of BPA are safe, they are interested enough in it to continue looking into the matter.

I'm not advocating everyone avoid sealants...I'm just saying that's what we're choosing in my family. :)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I thought your post was very interesting. I'm a dental student and I'm also a very health-conscience person. I've been following the BPA stories and did my own search on the wonderful WWW and came across your post along with lots of other interesting information. I commend you for being an informed parent! We haven't gotten to a discussion in my school about BPA yet, but I gathered the same info from the internet that you did - that the ADA has deemed it safe, but they are looking in to it further. I also noticed that BPA isn't in the sealants themselves, but can be a byproduct if it isn't mixed correctly before being placed in the tooth. In general I think sealants are a good thing, but I also have concerns about the BPA. If you decided against it, I would recommend that you keep a close eye on those teeth. Those deep surfaces are the toughest to keep bacteria out of when we can't get our toothbrushes down in there. Last, one of the reasons that the number of sealants is so low is because people don't know about them - and a lot of people we see would benefit from having the extra help on those teeth. It's been a successful preventative measure when used, but you'd be surprised at how many people don't go to a dentist. Good luck!