Sealants -- Any Long Term Risks?

I would like to find out about the long term risks of sealants on children's teeth.


There are actually several types of plastics that are used on both children and adults. These materials include sealants, composite resin, and glass ionomers. These are all polymers of some type and can be used in both primary and permanent teeth. I know that some controversy surrounds the use of dental sealants. Some people are concerned about the release of so-called estrogen type compounds in sealants. As of December 1999, I am not aware of any scientific studies that prove sealants are harmful.

Sealants can be a wonderful preventative treatment. However, they should be considered on a case by case basis. Some children do not have deep grooves in their posterior teeth; therefore, proper brushing should be sufficient to prevent decay in these relatively flat areas. Those with deep pits and grooves which are unreachable by toothbrush bristles can greatly benefit from sealants.

Sealants have been available since the 1970s. Materials and techniques have improved quite a bit since sealants were first developed; however, the application of sealants has still not gained widespread use. As of 1992, only 10% of children 5-8 years of age had at least one dental sealant. Only 15% of children 12-17 years of age had sealants during this time. A 1994 study showed that sealants help reduce the incidence of occlusal (chewing surface) cavities by about 95% over 10 years provided that the sealants are examined and repaired during routine checkups (Foreman, Journal of the American Dental Association, February 1994, pp.182-186).

I place sealants when I feel they will be helpful in preventing dental decay. Until I read scientific evidence that plastic materials, including sealants, are dangerous for patients, I will continue to use them. The proper use of dental sealants help save time, money, tooth structure, and discomfort for many people.

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