Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings that are applied to the grooves on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to protect them from tooth decay. Most tooth decay in children and teens occurs on these surfaces. The most important reason for getting sealants is to avoid tooth decay. Fluoride in toothpaste and in drinking water protects the smooth surfaces of teeth but back teeth need extra protection. Sealants cover the chewing surfaces of the back teeth and keep germs and food particles out of these grooves.
Children should get sealants on their permanent molars as soon as the teeth come in before decay attacks the teeth. The first permanent molars, called “6-year molars”, come in between the ages of 5 and 7 years old. The second permanent molars, known as “12-year molars”, come in when a child is between 11 and 14 years old. Other teeth with pits and grooves also might need to be sealed.
Teenagers and young adults who are prone to decay may also need sealants. Sealants can only be seen up close. They can be clear, white, or slightly tinted, and usually are not seen when a child talks or smiles. Sealing a tooth is better than waiting for decay and filling the cavity because sealants protect teeth permanently, and each time a tooth is filled, more drilling is done and the tooth becomes a little weaker.
Sealants can save time, money, and the discomfort sometimes associated with dental fillings. Protect your child’s teeth and improve their oral health by sealing out plaque and food from their teeth!