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Brush up on dental sealants

Tooth decay, one of the most common conditions among children, is largely preventable. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dental sealants — plastic coatings placed on the chewing surfaces of teeth—can reduce decay by more than 70 percent in the two years after placement, and continue to be effective for nearly five years. Research finds that sealants are safe and help to shield grooved areas of the tooth where fluoride toothpaste is not as protective. Because sealants are such an effective means of preventing tooth decay, they have been endorsed by the American Dental Association.

Thorough brushing and flossing help remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth. Toothbrush bristles, however, cannot reach all the way into the depressions and grooves to extract food and plaque. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas by “sealing out” plaque and food.

Dental sealants act as a barrier to prevent cavities. They are a plastic material usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (premolars and molars) where decay occurs most often.

As long as the sealant remains intact, the tooth surface will be protected from decay. Sealants hold up well under the force of normal chewing.

Typically, children should get sealants on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as these teeth come in. This way, sealants help protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years of ages 6 to 14.

Local collaborators, MSAD27, Aroostook County Action Program and Fish River Rural Health, members of the St. John Valley Oral Health Stakeholders Committee, provide sealants for all second-grade students using portable dental equipment.  The program will take place at Fort Kent Elementary School the week of Jan. 8-11.

Parents, be sure to turn in permission forms if you have not already done so.  

Marissa Albert is the Community Oral Health Project Coordinator at Fish River Rural Health. You may call 834-3012 or email marissa@frrh.org. For more information on the St. John Valley Oral Health Stakeholders Committee and its programs visit our Facebook page @SJVOralhealth.

Support for the SJV Oral Health Stakeholder Committee is provided by the Maine Oral Health Funders.

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