dental sealants for kidsParents everywhere dragged their toddlers to the toothbrushes in the wake of The New York Times‘ staggering piece on the uptick in toddler cavities. With children as young as two being put under anesthesia to deal with negligence in dental hygiene, even Mommyish readers admitted that they weren’t too diligent about keeping teeth clean. But given the pronounced rise in toddler tooth decay, would you consider dental sealants for your child?

Jonathan Shenkin, a pediatric dentist and spokesperon for the American Dental Association, attests that resin-based sealant can reduce cavities by 80% “immediately,”and up to 60% for four years or more. Although not all children need dental sealants by any means, those parents of high-risk children who exhibit a lot of decay (you know who you are), should apparently consider the option:

“The lack of dentists doing sealants is a very silent and probably the most significant issue to care we face among children,” said Shenkin. “Parents should be asking for sealants and not taking no for an answer.”

But the topic of dental sealants is by no means a harmonious one among dentists, according to msnbc’s report. Some contest the effectiveness of the sealants, pointing out that the protection can vary depending on the skill of the dentist applying them. Gordon J. Christensen makes the case that sealants shouldn’t be applied if decay is already present, which for those toddlers who are already going under anesthesia could present a problem.

Kids who are starting in kindergarten, however, are perfect candidates:

Dental sealants are formed when a plastic-like liquid is dripped onto the biting surface of the tooth, coating the pits and fissures that typically trap food and foster bacterial growth.

They’re applied to the permanent molars and set with ultraviolet light, ideally between the ages of 5 and 7, when the teeth erupt. Cost can be $30 to $40 for each tooth and is typically covered by most dental insurance policies.

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(photo: Dmitriy Shironosov/ Shutterstock)