What are dental sealants? And who needs them?

While brushing and flossing help remove food and plaque from your teeth, your toothbrush can’t always reach deep into the grooves (called pits and fissures). These grooves are where you kids tend to get cavities. So what can you do? Sealants–a thin, plastic protective coating–can protect these areas by keeping food out and stopping bacteria and plaque from attacking your teeth, particularly on the chewing surfaces of your back teeth.


Who needs sealants?

While adults and children can benefit from sealants, it’s better to get them at an earlier age. As soon as children’s permanent molar teeth come in, they should get sealants. Children’s first permanent molars usually come between ages 5 and 7, and their second permanent molars come in between ages 11 and 14. Children at higher risk for tooth decay will benefit the most, so ask your dentist about your child’s risk for dental disease.

Adults at high risk for tooth decay may also benefit from sealants, so talk to your dentist if you would like more information.


How are sealants applied?

Getting teeth sealed is an easy and painless process:

  • The teeth that are going to be sealed are cleaned.
  • They are dried, and cotton is put around them to keep them dry.      
  • The chewing surfaces are roughened slightly with a solution to help the sealant stick to the tooth.
  • The teeth are rinsed and dried, and new cotton is placed around them.
  • Your dentist will paint the sealant onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens.


“Sealants.” Mouth Healthy, American Dental Association.  http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/s/sealants

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