As part of an overall prevention strategy, dental sealants may also be used to protect the teeth from caries. First developed in the 1970s and 80s, these thin plastic-coatings are used to fill depressions, pits and fissures and form a protective shield over the tooth enamel. This provides a smoother, easier surface for patients to clean, and acts as a barrier from cavity forming plaque and acids. Sealants are usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the permanent molars soon after eruption (at around the age of 6 or 7 years) and last for as long as 5 to 10 years. Their efficacy has been established and confirmed in various studies and a report released by the Centres for Disease and Control in 2016 stated that school-age children without sealants have almost three times more cavities than children with sealants.”
However, there is some controversy around dental sealants. Many contain Bisphenol A (BPA) – a chemical used for the manufacture of polycarbonate plastics, epoxy resins and methacrylate resins. In animal studies, a number of adverse health effects have been associated with BPA including effects on hormonal activity, asthma, diabetes, obesity, behavioural changes, cancer, infertility and genital malformations. BPA has been reported to leach from some resin based dental materials such as pit and fissure sealants and increased concentrations in saliva and urine have been demonstrated after use in dental treatments.12
The other major concern is that BPA may have an oestrogen effect. When a low doses of BPA was administered to pregnant mice for example, there was a significant increase in adult prostate weight in the male offspring compared with controls. Other animal studies have also indicated that BPA is effective in stimulating prolactin hormones from the pituitary glands and increased growth activity in cells lining the mammary glands.13 However, the contribution of BPA exposure from sealants is small and has been described as “negligible” as much larger source of human exposure to BPA is from food and beverages packaging such as cans coated with BPA based epoxies.12 Consequently, the benefits of dental sealants may far outweigh the risks.
Even so, some parents and carers may not wish their children to have dental sealants. Also, it may be argued that efforts to prevent dental caries are simply best devoted to the evidence-based approach. To this end, the CALCIVIS® imaging system is the perfect solution. This revolutionary new device uses a bioluminescent photoprotein to detect free calcium ions as they are released from actively demineralising tooth surfaces. It captures engaging, glowing images, that provide definitive evidence of the caries disease process at the earliest most reversible stages so that preventive measures can be initiated to avoid further progression. The cal imaging system can be used with children as young as six and it is powerful communication/educational tool. It helps patients, as well as parents and carers, to understand exactly what is happening in the mouth and appreciate the benefits of preventive caries management strategies.
For more information call on 0131 658 5152 or email at [email protected]
 NHS. Live well. Children’s teeth. Healthy body. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/taking-care-of-childrens-teeth/ [Accessed 23rd July 2019]
 American Dental Association. (ADA) Sealants. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/s/sealants [Accessed 23rd July 2019]
 Becher R. et al. Presence and leaching of bisphenol a (BPA) from dental materials. Acta Biomater Odontol Scand. 2018; 4(1): 56–62. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5974758/ [Accessed 23rd July 2019]
 Rathee M. et al. Bisphenol A in dental sealants and its oestrogen like effect. Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2012 May-Jun; 16(3): 339–342. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3354837/ [Accessed 23rd July 2019]