What works best
You’ve established your protocol and advertised the service, but what products work best? This is a personal preference.
The two common types of sealants are resin-based sealants and glass ionomer cements. As we know, technique is crucial. As with most dental procedures, the patient’s cooperation and keeping the area dry are challenges to placing sealants. A majority of clinicians place sealants independently, while others have assistants helping.
Drs. David Shipper and Howard Vogel of Central Park West Dental in New York City said that it’s easier to set a new appointment for patients rather than run overtime on an existing appointment and sacrifice quality. This is their technique: Vogel cleans the surface area with an air abrasive, isolates the tooth, and then applies etch and bond. Next, he uses composite material rather than traditional sealant material (due to better retention), and cures the surface for 15 seconds.
Hygienist Michele Banks, who works for Arizona’s Dental Sealant Program with the Maricopa County Office of Oral Health, said, “I do not have dental assistants so I use a two-handed technique. I have started to use BeautiSealant by Shofu. I love it. It is easy and fast to place. No etching. The kids seem to like this better.”
Many people who are most at risk for tooth decay do not have access to a regular dentist. However, community and public-health services can help bridge the gap for this population. Volunteering can make a difference in your community. Research your state to see if there is an available school-based dental sealant program. If not, Seal America provides resources on how to create one.
The Maricopa County Office of Oral Health has a successful program. Hygienist Vincent Torres, a program supervisor, said that the program follows the protocols of Seal America. Public sector programs are managed differently than private practice.
The two types of sealants that the program places are preventive or therapeutic sealants. In private practice, we generally use preventive sealants.
In the public sector, therapeutic sealants are placed in the pits and fissures with incipient caries. The reason is simple: sealant material may arrest or stop the progression of the carious lesion, and clinicians have no way of knowing if the child will receive dental treatment in the near future. Therefore, placing sealants will be beneficial for the child, regardless of whether or not there is incipient decay.
You can also reach out to your community by creating public service announcements through social media, or writing articles for your local school or community newspaper. Public health organizations can always use a helping hand, so checking out your local chapter is a great place to start. Better yet, offering a “free clinic day” for those in need will boost your office morale and provide services to your community while increasing your practice’s visibility.
More people are seeking preventive and natural-health treatment alternatives. By establishing protocols, preparing patients, finding dental materials that work for your office, and helping out in our communities, we as dental professionals can help make a positive impact. Let’s get back to basics and make dental sealants a priority.
Beauchamp, J., Caufield, P. W., Crall, J. J., Donly, K., Feigal, R., Gooch, B., … Simonsen, R. (2008). Evidence-Based Clinical Recommendations for the Use of Pit-and-Fissure Sealants. The Journal of the American Dental Association, 139(3), 257-268. doi:10.14219/jada.archive.2008.0155
(2014, December 16). Retrieved August 04, 2016, from cdc.gov/healthywater/hygiene/disease/dental_caries.html
Seal America The Prevention Invention Second Edition, Revised. (2011). Retrieved August 11, 2016, from mchoralhealth.org/seal/
Torres, V., RDH, MHI. (2016, August 5). Maricopa County Department of Public Health, Office of Oral Health [Telephone interview].
Banks, M., RDH. (2016, August 10). Maricopa County Department of Public Health, Office of Oral Health [E-mail interview].
Shipper, D. M. (2016, August 09). Central Park West Dental: Sealants, [Personal interview].
Vogel, H. J. (2016, August 12). Central Park West Dental: Sealant Technique, [Personal interview].