A dental sealant is a clear, white or colored plastic coating put on the tops of back teeth. Most tooth decay and cavities in children occur in these areas because of pits and grooves that are hard to keep clean. A sealant coats and protects these areas to prevent decay. See diagram below.
When should sealants be placed?
Children between 5 and 15 years old benefit most from sealants. It is best to put sealants on teeth when the teeth first come in, before cavities have a chance to start.
Have sealants been tested?
Millions of children have had their teeth sealed. Studies show that sealants prevent cavities, are easy to apply, with no pain to the child. They are recommended by the American Dental Association, the Surgeon General, the American Public Health Association and many other health organizations.
Do sealants need to be replaced?
A sealant can last five years or more. Sealants should be checked regularly and replaced if needed.
Will sealants replace fluoride?
No. Fluoride in water, toothpaste and mouth rinse works best on the smooth sides of teeth. Sealants and fluoride work together to stop tooth decay.
Why seal a tooth that might never get a cavity?
Most children get cavities in their back teeth. Decay eats through teeth. To fill cavities, teeth must be drilled to remove the decay. Sealants can save time, money and the pain of cavities and fillings.