Kids Benefit From Dental Sealants Programs
We believe healthy smiles and healthy lives are closely connected. And we’re driven to improve the health and wellness of the communities we serve. One of the ways we are supporting health and wellness is by promoting good oral health in schools.
In Iowa, we have several programs across our state to support education and inclusive oral health services for children. We recognize that not all families have access to dental care, so through our Foundation, we invest in programs like I-Smile™ @ School, facilitated by the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services (formerly Iowa Department of Health).
I-Smile @ School is a school-based dental care program that provides no-cost sealants to children in 2nd and 3rd grades. Services are provided in schools in the most underserviced areas of the state, as these children are most likely to miss preventive dental appointments or not have a dental home. The program provides dental exams, risk assessments, dental referrals, and sealants while the children are at school. As many as 55,000 children can receive care annually through the program!
What are dental sealants?
Dental sealants are thin, plastic coatings that are painted on molars to protect them from cavities. While good brushing and flossing can remove food particles from the surfaces of your teeth, they can’t always reach the pits and grooves in the back teeth. These are the top spots where people develop cavities because food and bacteria can build up. Sealants form a protective layer over gaps to help prevent this.
What are the benefits of sealants?
Getting sealants is not painful and they can be applied quickly, which makes them great for kids. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sealants can protect against 80% of cavities for the first two years and continue to protect for up to four years.
Having fewer cavities is a good thing for your health and your wallet. Getting sealants can save you from more expensive and invasive treatments like dental fillings or crowns.
Children with cavities sometimes experience health issues such as:
- Poor eating habits
- Pain/sensitivity in the mouth
- Respiratory infections
- Difficulty concentrating
In addition, children with cavities or other oral health concerns often miss school due to pain or additional dental appointments. Sealants can help you avoid these concerns.
Who should get dental sealants?
When a child’s permanent molars (back teeth) come in, they should get dental sealants. This could be between the ages of 5 and 7 for the first permanent molars and ages 11 to 14 for the second set of molars. You can also get sealants as an adult – ask your dentist if this would benefit you.
The power of oral health education
Teaching kids good dental health habits can save them from experiencing dental pain. These habits include:
- Visiting the dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings
- Brushing teeth twice a day
- Flossing daily
- Limit drinking of sugar sweetened beverages
- Drink water throughout the day
Learning good habits at a young age will set your children up for a happier and healthier life of smiles.