Open-Mouth Breathing and Your Child’s Oral Health

open smile breath

Open-Mouth Breathing and Your Child’s Oral Health
Have you noticed that your child is a mouth-breather, even without a cold or stuffy nose? Although this may not seem to be cause for concern, chronic open-mouth posture or mouth- breathing can be a sign of sleep-disordered breathing, tethered oral tissues, oromyofunctional imbalances, and other conditions that can significantly impact your child’s oral health.

Sleep Disordered Breathing

Sleep disorder breathing includes a spectrum of disorders including snoring, loud breathing, open-mouth breathing and sleep apnea. These conditions are often overlooked and left untreated. However, in many cases, they are signs of changes in your child’s health. Continuously breathing through the mouth instead of the nose can impact your child’s growth and development and their oral health and is a common cause of dental cavities within children. We encourage parents to check for signs of mouth breathing and snoring so that we can begin diagnosing the root causes and sending your child to the appropriate specialists promptly.

The importance of treatment

The jaw and tongue are used primarily for eating, speaking, and swallowing. When incorporated into the breathing process repeatedly, posture begins to be altered. This can be important as a majority of children’s craniofacial growth occurs between birth and the age of 12. Chronic mouth breathing can pull the jaw and tongue into lower positions leading to facial malformation, malocclusions, and compromised airways.

Causes

Open-mouth breathing is often an indication of a problem within the nasal passageway, the posterior pharynx, or within the oral cavity (or often a combo!). Children may not be able to recognize this as a problem as they do not understand the risks it can pose to their growth and development and often do not even realize they are doing it. Common causes of open-mouth breathing can include parafunctional habits, allergies, chronic nasal congestion, inflamed sinus tissue, a deviated septum, tongue-tie, jaw relationship and shape issues, and promotor dysfunctions. All these conditions can make it difficult to breathe through the nose, resulting in open-mouth breathing.

Symptoms

Though open-mouth breathing may seem harmless, as a long-term habit it can lead to health issues such as:

  • Bruxism or teething grinding
  • Crowded teeth
  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Irregular bite
  • Jaw pain
  • Morning headaches
  • Poor facial development such as long face syndrome
  • Poor memory or ability to focus, sometimes mimicking ADHD
  • Restless sleep
  • Sleep deprivation

Did you know that open-mouth breathing can lead to an increased risk of developing gingivitis and tooth decay? Chronic mouth breathing reduces the amount of saliva and disrupts the oral microbiome within the mouth, which is important to neutralizing dangerous acids and washing away harmful bacteria. Without it, the risk of tooth decay and gum inflammation significantly increases.

Treatment

As stated above, the most important thing you can do as a parent or guardian is to note the signs and symptoms and bring them to your pediatric dentist or pediatrician’s attention. By paying close attention and seeking a proper diagnosis and treatment early, we can often treat the issue before these symptoms progress resulting in long-term issues.

Treatment will vary depending on the underlying cause of your child’s mouth breathing. We will make sure to work with your child’s healthcare team to determine the best treatment for your child. In cases of allergies or nasal and airway obstructions, your child’s primary care doctor or an ENT will be the best at determining the right treatment. However, dental treatment can include palatal expanders and other functional dental appliances to help keep your child’s development on track and encourage him or her to breathe through their nose. Regular dental cleanings and maintaining proper oral hygiene can help to reduce plaque buildup and prevent gingivitis from developing as a result of open-mouth breathing. Be sure to see your dentist regularly as these issues can arise in later childhood and teen years, too! We all want your children to thrive and periodically monitoring their growth and development is key!

With Love + Health,
Doctor Staci and the NoPo Kids Team

A Cavity-Free Halloween!

A Cavity-Free Halloween!Fall into October and get ready for a Spooktacular Halloween! This is one holiday that many children (and grown-ups like myself!) look forward to all year. Families pick and decorate pumpkins, some create and wear creative costumes, and many end the night with a fun-filled jaunt of trick-or-treating.

Trick-or-treating can be loads of fun, but we understand that many parents worry about the effect the larger amounts of candy and treats can have on teeth. We also know most children won’t stop at just one sugary treat on Halloween and, honestly, that’s okay! As long as you create a solid plan ahead of time and maintain proper dental hygiene, your teeth will be happy and healthy after all of the fun and festivities.

To help you navigate the night, we’ve decided to offer you a few recommendations and tips for how to be cavity-free this Halloween.

Make a Plan Ahead of time!

Before you begin all of your Halloween activities, be sure to set some candy guidelines rules. Kids are often okay with rules as long as they know them in advance. If you set a candy limit, be sure to try and stick to it! Make a decision on how many pieces your child can have Halloween night and the subsequent nights following. Try to encourage more chocolatey treats (dark chocolate is my fave!) and less sticky and gummy ones as chocolate will be more likely to melt off from teeth and be less cavity-causing. There are also great Xylitol options out there now which actually help inhibit bacteria-causing cavities. Dr. John’s is one of my go-to’s and they are actually having a Halloween sale right now, so check it out!

Carry water with you all night while out trick-or-treating and offer it after any candy and this will help rinse sugars and acids of the teeth. And of course, please FLOSS and BRUSH well that night before bed with nothing but water after.

The best time to eat candy is after a meal, so try to plan your candy-dispensing-fun after Halloween night around a meal. Salvia production increases while we eat and helps counteract the harmful bacteria.

We understand that with the pandemic, trick-or-treating may be a little different this year. Please remember to wear your mask and practice social distancing, even if just visiting friends or family (your pods). If you are going out at night, be sure to be bright! A light-up necklace, glow sticks, or reflective tape can be the difference between safe and injured.

Tooth-Friendly Candy Swaps

If you are giving out treats this year or want to provide some tooth-friendly alternatives for your own children, here are some of our fave recommendations…

Consider getting creative with fruits like by making fun fruit-sticks with items like grapes, berries, apples and bananas…all which are nutritious and better for your children’s oral health.

Another option for candy swaps are non-food alternatives such as Halloween-themed toys, glow sticks, bubble wands, and temporary tattoos. These options are inexpensive and fun for kids without the added sugar! Also, consider given out pocket change that you have collected from the year…a neighbor used to do this when I was a kid and she had a line down her driveway of kids waiting to grab a handful of peenies and the occasional nickel or quarter.

If you really want to give out consider chocolate especially dark chocolate. More on this below….

During the night

While you are out trick or treating, it is important to practice proper road safety. Obey all traffic laws and stay close to children on busy roads. Be aware of your surroundings and always look both ways before crossing.

Now onto the important part: candy! Be mindful of which candy you eat as each can affect your teeth differently.

Sticky and gummy candies can be messy and harder to clean off not only fingers but also your teeth. Sour candies tend to be very acidic, that’s why you pucker! However, that acid can break down the enamel on your teeth, making them more prone to cavities. The same can be said for sticky and chewy candies that can stick around between your teeth increasing the chance of a cavity. Candy doesn’t have to be harmful to your teeth if you practice moderation.

Chocolate is your best bet on a happy Halloween. Not only is it sweet, but it washes off your teeth easier than other candies. Baked goods without sticky dried fruit, gelatin treats, fruits, ice cream, popsicles, and yogurt are also tooth-friendly treats.

Remember to stay hydrated during the night by drinking plenty of water to help keep your mouth clean between candy breaks. This also helps keep those sugars off your teeth.

Once you get home

If you’ve made a candy plan, be sure to stick to it. Everything in balance is OK and candy is no exception. Be sure to check candy ingredients for any that may be harmful to your child.

Unsure of what to do with all that candy? If you don’t want to eat it all, we understand and can help point you in other directions. Try a candy switch in your house, trade candies for prizes such as books or small toys. You can also donate your candy to appropriate organizations to help give out candy to others.

We understand that it can be tempting to just go to bed after such a fun night, but this is the one night you should prioritize brushing and flossing.

Your mouth is full of good and bad bacteria. Those harmful bacteria love candy as much as you do! While the bacteria may eat the left-over sugar in your mouth, they also produce acids that contribute to the formation of cavities, so it is super important that on a big night such as Halloween that you remember to brush and floss! We recommend waiting at least 30 minutes after a candy binge as the candy can leave your teeth’s enamel sensitive and demineralized and brushing right away may do more harm than good. Flossing is just as important as it cleans those areas between your teeth that toothbrushes can’t reach.

For more tips on how to keep your family cavity-free this Halloween or to book an exam after your Halloween fun, contact our office at info@nopokids.com or call 971-978-0009.

Natural Teething Remedies

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Natural Teething RemediesIs your child having fussy days followed by sleepless nights? Teething can be a stressful time for all and lead to parents scouring the Internet to find a way to combat the teething blues. As the name suggests, teething is the process of a child’s teeth growing through the gums. This can make even the happiest baby a little fussy and cranky. At NoPo Kids, we know that it is not only important to make sure your child is comfortable, but also to ensure that teething remedies are safe. For this reason, we have provided some natural teething remedies that will help to ease the pain for your child while keeping them safe from harmful substances.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF TEETHING

Teething can occur in children anywhere between 4 months old to the age of 2 or 3, and during this time your baby or toddler may become fussy and irritable as their new teeth begin to emerge.
Every child handles teething symptoms differently. Some children may experience little to no symptoms, while others may display the following:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Drooling
  • Gnawing or chewing on things around them
  • Irritability
  • Red and swollen gums
  • **Low grade fever/diarrhea (this one is not supported by current research, HOWEVER we see this in hundreds and hundreds of patients…including own kids!! It is always best to call your pediatrician if a fever or illness develops to rule out other issues). Always confirm with your child’s pediatrician which remedies are safe to use with your child before trying a remedy.

NATURAL REMEDIES

Breastmilk
Freezing breast milk into ice chips/cubes can help soothe and calm your child’s sore gums. Pour the breastmilk into an ice cube tray (silicone is ideal!) and freeze. Once frozen, smash up the ice cubes into smaller bites and offer them in a teething mesh or baby feeder.

Nursing can also offer some relief as the sucking action may relieve pressure on your baby’s gums. Chamomile tea has wonderful properties ideal for reducing the stress and fussiness of teething. Mothers can drink this caffeine-free tea and pass the benefits of the tea along to the baby as well!

Cool or frozen items
Cold or frozen foods such as carrots, bananas, or apples can be safe items for your baby to gum or gnaw on. Foods should be monitored and given in a mesh or silicone teether to prevent larger pieces from getting into your baby’s mouth.
A slightly frozen washcloth is a favorite of many parents. Soak a clean washcloth in water or diluted caffeine-free chamomile tea and freeze it for several minutes. When your baby is showing signs of teething, feel free to offer them the cold cloth to chew on. This can help decrease inflammation and provide a soothing effect.

Massage
As your baby’s teeth emerge, tension can build up along the jaw creating pain that travels from their mouth up to their ears. Giving your baby a gentle facial massage can help reduce pain and irritation often caused by teething.
Begin by massaging with the pads of your fingertips along your baby’s chin or above the top lip. Slowly move your hands to their cheeks and begin to move your fingers in a circular motion. Moving your fingers higher, draw the pads of your thumbs gently across your baby’s eyebrows to remove tension.
This is a great teething remedy that reduces teething symptoms, calms your baby, and is also an excellent bonding opportunity.

Teething toys or rings
Using a safe non-toxic teething ring or toy is a great choice for a teething remedy that allows your baby to chew and relieve pressure. Silicone or rubber are usually safe choices. Another option can be a wooden or bamboo teether, but be sure to use a brand that uses water-based sealants and be aware that some may need to be oiled before use.

For teething toys that can be placed in the freezer or refrigerator, select one that is filled with water in case a seam breaks or a hole develops.

Using a clean finger
Last but not least, one of the best and oldest of natural teething remedies is using a clean finger! Rubbing your finger across your child’s sore gums or allowing them to chew on your finger can help relieve tension and pain.

While there are many teething remedies, always check with your pediatrician for the best advice on how to soothe your child’s teething woes. After approval, try some of these natural teething remedies to help alleviate your child’s symptoms and pain. It generally takes 3-4 days for a tooth to erupt (but some children are slow teethers and it can take longer!) and symptoms to subside–until the next tooth comes in! Han gint here parents…you got this! And remember, teeth allow us to start chewing for better jaw development and opens a whole world of adventurous and nutrient-dense eating opportunities!

For more information on natural teething remedies or to schedule an appointment, please contact NoPo Kids Dentistry today.

Tooth Eruption

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Tooth EruptionAt NoPo Kids, we are dedicated to helping your child achieve and maintain great oral health. This includes empowering caregivers and parents with the proper education and guidance to take care of their child’s teeth.

Primary Tooth Eruption

Tooth eruption refers to the process during tooth development where the teeth emerge through the gums and become visible. Humans have two sets of teeth: their primary teeth and their permanent teeth.

Primary teeth, also known as baby or deciduous teeth, are the first set to arrive. These teeth are noticeably smaller and whiter than permanent, or adult teeth. Infants are born with 20 primary teeth within their gums, and they may begin to erupt as early as 4 months after birth.

Generally, the central teeth of both the upper and lower jaw are the first to appear with the remainder of teeth erupting sequentially in pairs moving to the back of the mouth. However, each child differs in when and what teeth may arrive. By the age of 3 or 4, most children will have a full set of primary teeth.

We encourage parents and caregivers to schedule their child’s first dental appointment after the first tooth arrives so we can begin monitoring growth and setting the foundation for great oral health.

Symptoms of Teething

During this time, your child may have sore or tender gums as their teeth begin to erupt. Common signs of teething include:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Drooling more than usual
  • Crying
  • Fussy behavior
  • Loss of appetite

To alleviate this discomfort, use a clean finger, cool spoon, or cold wet cloth to rub the gums gently. Teething rings can also help to relieve any discomfort of teething. Do not give your child medication to help with teething pain unless directed to by their doctor or dentist.

Care and Management

Although they are “baby” teeth, primary teeth play an important part in your child’s growth and development even beyond their oral health. Primary teeth help to facilitate speech production, proper jaw development, good chewing habits, and the proper spacing and alignment of permanent teeth.

After each feeding, be sure to wipe your child’s gum down with a wet washcloth or gauze pad. As their teeth begin to erupt, you can begin to help them care for their teeth by brushing and flossing properly to avoid tooth decay, cavities, and childhood periodontal disease. Use an ADA approved child toothpaste and an appropriately sized brush to help clean your child’s teeth.

The Eruption of Permanent Teeth

By the time your child is 6 or 7, they may feel their primary teeth beginning to loosen as their permanent teeth begin to erupt. The incisors or front teeth are usually the first to fall out and generally, the rest follow in the order they erupted. This process will continue until the age of 21. Most adults have 28 permanent teeth or 32 if they keep their third molars (also known as wisdom teeth).

The early years of tooth development and care help to set a solid foundation for your child’s oral health. By establishing good habits and educating them as they grow older on proper brushing and flossing techniques, you can ensure the health of their future smile.

For more information on tooth eruption and how we can help, contact NoPo Kids Dentistry today.

How to Prevent Cavities

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How to Prevent CavitiesIt is no secret that many of us can have a sweet tooth, and our children are no exception! While it is fine to indulge in sweet treats every now and then, it is important to take the appropriate preventative measures to keep your child’s teeth healthy and free of cavities. Here at NoPo Kids, we take pride in helping our patients develop healthy habits and hygiene for their teeth, so we have put together a few helpful tips to help combat cavities.

NUTRITION

Eating a healthy diet is an essential part of cavity prevention. In addition to avoiding sugary foods and drinks, it is important to include essential vitamins and nutrients to help strengthen tooth enamel and to help the body absorb essential minerals that are important to dental health. Consuming a diet that is rich in the following can help in the fight against cavities:

  • Calcium
  • Vitamin D3
  • Vitamin K2
  • Probiotics

Each of these plays a vital role in dental health and is part of a balanced diet. While some of these nutrients can be supplied through a regular diet, you may need to consider adding supplements in order to get a sufficient amount.

Additionally, consider reducing your child’s phytic acid intake. Foods such as beans, plant seeds, and grains tend to interfere with nutrient absorption, which can be counterproductive when trying to supply your body with the proper nutrients to support dental health. If you still wish to eat these types of foods, try soaking and sprouting them before eating them, as this reduces their amount of phytic acid.

ORAL CARE

We recommend brushing and flossing in the morning after breakfast, after lunch, and then before bedtime. Brushing and flossing keeps the amount of acid in the mouth at a low level decreasing the chance of cavities and tooth decay.

A lot of parents wonder when they should start brushing their children’s teeth. We recommend that parents brush their children’s teeth as soon as they can be seen. Baby brushes are perfect for this and not only can they remove bacteria from the teeth, but it gets them comfortable with having the brush in their mouth. Around age 2, a child should be trying to hold the brush and spit. A small amount of children’s toothpaste can be used at this time as well.

Even though young children may not consume a lot of sugar, some bacteria exist. Brushing and flossing can help children rid their mouth of bacteria and get them in the habit of good oral hygiene for when they do start consuming more sugary foods and drinks.

In addition to making sure your children brush and floss at least twice a day, you should also bring your children to us on a regular basis, beginning at age 1.

We are pediatric dentists who specialize in examining baby teeth and ensuring adult teeth are coming through correctly. By bringing your children in for routine examinations you will not only help them establish healthy dental habits and prevent cavities, but you will also help your children get comfortable seeking care from a dentist. During these appointments, we can help check for cavities and deal with any potential issues as soon as they arise.

For more information about how you can help your child prevent cavities or to schedule an appointment, contact NoPo Kids Dentistry today.

Doctor Staci Talks Sealants in a guest blog for Ask the Dentist!

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by Staci Whitman, DMD

What are dental sealants?

Dental sealants are thin, plastic coatings that seal over the narrow grooves found on the chewing surfaces of back teeth (molars and premolars).

When placed perfectly on these deep pits, sealants can prevent a significant amount of tooth decay (cavities) by protecting sensitive tooth surfaces from acid that causes cavities.

Sealants are not generally placed on baby teeth but on the tooth enamel of permanent teeth (“adult” teeth).

Source: CDC

Dental sealants function much like sealing cracks in a driveway or on the sidewalk. The grooves in the chewing surfaces of back teeth are sealed so that food particles and bacteria will not settle within the fissures, causing cavities.

Application of sealants may be appropriate for some pediatric dental patients to prevent tooth decay in kids. However, they are not a substitute for brushing, flossing, and a healthy diet.

Dental sealants can be placed by your dentist, dental hygienist, or other dental professional. Some states dental boards have laws governing by whom, how, and in what circumstances dental sealants can be placed.

While I will recommend sealants at my office, I do so with very strict criteria, application techniques, and only the cleanest materials. So, are dental sealants worth it for your children’s dental health?

How are sealants applied to teeth?

Sealant placement is a relatively easy process.

  1. First, the teeth are cleaned of plaque or food particles and then thoroughly examined for tooth decay.
  2. Each tooth is dried and surrounded by absorbent material so it remains dry throughout the procedure.
  3. The tooth is cleaned with a mild etchant (acid etch solution) to roughen the tooth surface and encourage bonding of the sealant material.
  4. The etchant is rinsed and the teeth are dried again.
  5. Depending on your material of choice, a thin layer of bonding agent may be used prior to the placement of the very viscous sealant material.
  6. The sealant is painted directly onto the chewing surface of each tooth.
  7. Finally, a curing light may be used to harden the dental sealant.

The teeth must be nicely isolated so no contaminants, such as saliva, affect the bond. Ozone gas can be applied to ensure bacteria on or around the tooth is reduced or eliminated prior to sealing.

If a small cavity is detected, air abrasion or a dental laser or drill can be used to clean out the infection prior to any material placement.

Can a sealant be placed over existing tooth decay?

Technically, clear sealants can be used over small cavities to prevent major spread of the decay.

However, it’s best to treat any existing decay (or take steps to reverse it, depending on the extent of the decay) before placing a dental sealant.

How long do dental sealants last?

Depending on the techniques used, sealants can last from 3-10 years or more.

Sealants may not last as long for patients who:

  • Clench/grind their teeth
  • Have acid reflux
  • Eat a highly acidic diet

How do I care for my sealants?

Dental sealants are easy to care for and can be brushed and flossed as normal. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a toothpaste using a remineralizing agent like hydroxyapatite.

They may stain with diets high in berries, coffee, teas, and red wine. Sealants may “pop” off if you are eating sticky, gummy, chewy foods.

Do dental sealants work?

Do dental sealants prevent cavities? Yes, sealants do work to prevent cavities (tooth decay) if placed perfectly and at the right time.

Most research shows that sealants do reduce cavities, but more long term follow-ups are needed.

In a 2017 Cochrane review, researchers stated that “resin‐based sealants applied to occlusal surfaces of permanent molars reduced caries when compared to no sealant.” However, “trials with long follow‐up times are needed to research the effectiveness of sealing procedures related to different caries prevalence levels.”

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) found in a 2016 study that “Children without sealants had almost three times more cavities in permanent first molars compared with children with sealants.”

The same study stated that dental sealants can prevent 80% of cavities in permanent molars (where 9/10 cavities develop).

This study did not control for dietary patterns, dental hygiene habits, or level of dental care during the same period of time. It only controlled for sex, race/ethnicity, family income, and highest level of education by the head of the household.

Why does this matter? It’s possible that confounding variables — such as diet, dental visits, or dental hygiene habits — may have artificially inflated these numbers.

For example, children who received dental sealants may also have visited the dentist, brushed, and flossed more often. They may be the same children who do not eat sugary or highly acidic foods, which will impact cavity formation.

These statistics should be examined with a hefty grain of salt.

Risks of Dental Sealants

Dental sealants are painless and scientific research has not revealed any adverse effects likely to happen when dental sealants are placed.

However, there are risks if the teeth are not thoroughly examined for dental caries (tooth decay) prior to placement.

Very frequently, I will go to remove or replace a sealant only to find hidden decay underneath. If left undetected, otherwise healthy teeth need extensive fillings and sometimes even nerve therapy or extractions after being covered by a sealant.

PLoS One study found that even “after adjustment by non-conditional logistic regression for sociodemographic variables, oral health behaviors (toothbrushing, daily use of dental floss and dental appointments) and experience of dental pain, the findings of the present study demonstrate that dental caries is associated with fissure sealant application.”

In plain terms: If sealants are not properly placed, they can actually cause cavities by either creating ledges to catch plaque and food on or by sealing in bacteria and undetected decay to fester and grow underneath the material.

Many parents are concerned about the adverse reactions/effects of dental sealant material.

Most dental sealants contain BPA (bisphenol A) and/or bis-GMA. These are both known endocrine disruptors and should generally be avoided in growing and developing children.

From a 2012 publication: “Researchers found an estrogenic effect with BPA, Bis-DMA, and Bis-GMA because BPA lacks structural specificity as a natural ligand to the estrogen receptor. It generated considerable concern regarding the safety of dental resin materials.”

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), there is “not enough [BPA] to cause you or a loved one any harm” in dental sealants.

The amount of BPA exposure is at its highest during the application and is believed to “level out” within the 24 hours after the procedure. Thus far, there is no known harm of immediate toxicity after placement of sealant material.

However, this has never been tested using blood (serum) BPA or bis-GMA levels, which may present a concern.

To avoid toxic sealant materials (even in very small amounts), ask your dentist what materials they are using for their sealants. Ceramic-based materials, rather than those with BPA, Bis-DMA, or bis-GMA materials, are associated with the smallest level of risk to overall health.

Who should get dental sealants? 

Children who benefit most from dental sealants include those:

  • With very deep grooves in their molars
  • At a high risk for cavities
  • Who eat a diet high in processed foods, refined flours and sugars, and sugary drinks
  • With special needs that make dental hygiene and/or a healthy diet more challenging

Ideally, sealants should be placed immediately after the eruption of the first molars (around age 6) and second molars (around age 12). Sooner is better to ensure the grooves have not been affected with bacteria or early cavities.

Sealants in Adults

In general, dental sealants are not used on adults, though some sources like the CDC and ADA claim they can help prevent decay. (This has not been tested in clinical trials.)

Dental sealants for adults may not be a good idea because the tooth has been exposed to the oral microbiome for a much longer time. Complex systems of bacteria are more likely to be trapped under the sealant in a deep groove.

To place a dental sealant in an adult tooth, it is important that the grooves be drilled out, treated with ozone, and immediately sealed. This best reduces the risk of growing decay under the sealant material.

Can dental sealants be removed?

Dental sealants can usually be removed in a quick and easy procedure involving either a laser or a dental drill to carefully remove the material used.

This leaves the healthy tooth structure intact, after which it can be resealed if desired.

Removing dental sealants is done to:

  • Reseal the tooth with a ceramic sealant (which is considered “cleaner” than traditional sealant)
  • Correct chips or cracks in existing dental sealants
  • Eliminate poorly placed sealants
  • Expose buried decay that can then be restored

Once a sealant is placed, it’s generally not removed unless a dentist spots a problem or the patient (or parent) requests it for other reasons, such as to change the materials being used.

How much do dental sealants cost?

Dental sealants cost $30-60 per tooth before insurance or discount plans.

Sealants placed on adult teeth may be billed as a one surface, posterior resin. This may cost $200-300 before insurance.

Are sealants covered by dental insurance?

Yes, dental insurance almost always covers dental sealants for people under 18.

Some insurance companies will only cover sealants on specific teeth or after a dental exam.

Many states have school-based sealant programs to provide dental sealants for children unlikely to have regular dental visits. These programs are usually provided to kids from low-income families and are funded by the CDC in 20 states and 1 territory.

Are sealants right for my family?

You and your dentist can use the information here to make an informed decision — there is no “right” answer that applies to every person for dental sealants.

Simply put, you know your child.

If they snack and graze, eat a lot of sticky, processed foods (think crackers, granola bars, pretzels, chips, fruit snacks, etc.), have deep, groovy anatomy on their teeth, or have a history of cavities, then they should probably get sealants.

If your dental hygiene routine is average at best, they should probably get sealants.

If you really trust your dentist and their materials and their techniques, you should consider getting dental sealants.

I generally advise them in higher risk patients, including children with special needs or sensory disorders, simply because homecare and hygiene can be such a challenge.

If you find a dentist who uses diagnostic tools to ensure you are not sealing in decay, uses an antibacterial like ozone to disinfect the surface, and utilizes more non-toxic ceramic materials, sealants can be a wonderful decision for your child.

Recently, I did elect to put sealants on my six-year old daughter’s teeth just as soon as they had erupted enough for me to have proper access to the chewing surfaces. I used all the protocols I mentioned above and feel really good about it.

My reasoning? I cannot and will not always be in control of her hygiene and diet and I want to set her up for success. I hope that I have taught her about proper oral care and dietary choices, but frankly, I want her to avoid experiencing the most common chronic disease in the world…cavities!

Ultimately, of course, it is a parental decision and your advocacy for your child is unparalleled.

Ask questions about the procedure and materials used to your provider and if you do not like the answer, simply decline! Focus instead on cleaning up the diet, improving the hygiene routine, and keeping your oral microbiome in balance and you will thrive.

Not only will your smiles be happier, but your whole-body health will shine!

How to Prevent Cavities without Dental Sealants

Humans survived, thrived, and evolved for millions of years without dental sealants. However, I do feel they can be beneficial if our diets are not ideal or the anatomy of your tooth is exceptionally “groovy.”

If you trust the process your dentist uses, they can be an effective way to prevent decay even with a clean diet.

To prevent cavities:

  • Eat real, nutrient-dense, whole foods.
  • Practice good oral hygiene, including flossing, tongue scraping, brushing teeth, and oil pulling.
  • Try oil pulling, which can also help to dislodge sneaky bacteria in nooks and crevasses.
  • Use hydroxyapatite toothpaste to benefit the remineralization and strengthening of our teeth.
  • Avoid “grazing” eating patterns and eat at specific times during the day.
  • Note and address any mouth breathing, which can cause dry mouth and disrupt the oral microbiome.
  • Don’t skip dental check-ups where your dentist can closely monitor any new signs of tooth decay.

Foods that support healthy teeth include those high in:

  • Protein
  • Healthy fats
  • Fiber
  • Antioxidants
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals like phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium

For more on how to prevent and reverse cavities during childhood (from prenatal development through high school), check out Dr. B’s Guide.