Dental Sealants: Safety and Effectiveness

What are Dental Sealants?

Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings placed over the chewing surfaces of back teeth to protect them from food. When left alone, plaque can build up and eventually cause tooth decay. Sealants are usually applied in one quick visit to the dentist. When a dentist places a sealant, the tooth is first cleaned, conditioned, and then a liquid sealant is hardened with a curing light.

Sealants are very durable and can stand up to most chewing forces. However, the protective coating may wear down at different rates in different people depending on your chewing habits, food choices and grinding patterns. It is always important to see your dentist regularly to ensure that your sealants are in good condition.

Are Dental Sealants Safe to Use?

Bisphenol A (BPA) has been in the news lately because of concerns about its safety. Dental materials with bis-GMA and/or bis-DMA may contain trace amounts of BPA as a byproduct of the manufacturing process. A low level of BPA may be present in the saliva a few hours after placement of resin-based sealants, but based on current evidence, the American Dental Association (ADA) believes that this low level and brief exposure time poses no known health risk.

From the ADA’s website:

The exposure to BPA from sealants is about 200 times lower than the level EPA considers safe. The EPA level is based on daily exposure. The measurable exposure to BPA from sealants occurs one time—at the time of placement.

Dental materials are far less likely to cause BPA exposure than other consumer goods such as plastic bottles and linings of metal cans. The ADA reports that sealants and composites should continue to be used because of their proven benefits which outweigh potential risks of BPA.

Does our office use Sealant material containing BPA?

No. Our office has used UltraSealXT plus (Ultradent) for many years – which is a certified BPA-free by the manufacturer and an independent third party laboratory.

Elizabeth Cook Miller, D.D.S., M.S. is a pediatric dentist at Atkins, Maestrello, Miller & Associates Pediatric Dentistry in Richmond, VA. She is a new mother, active runner and her favorite movie is "Finding Nemo".

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