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Ages for Child Sealants

Dental sealants shield kids from tooth decay

Decay in permanent teeth is declining among children, teens, and adults. Dental sealants — thin, plastic coatings that guard teeth from cavities — play a part in that decrease, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Why use sealants?

Good brushing and flossing help remove food particles and plaque from the smooth surfaces of teeth. But your toothbrush bristles can’t reach all the way into the depressions and grooves (called pits and fissures) in some of your teeth to get rid of food and bacteria. These grooves are the number one spot for people to develop cavities. Sealants can protect these areas, particularly on the chewing surfaces of your back teeth. Some people also have pits on other teeth where food or bacteria can collect, so those teeth are sometimes sealed as well.

Who needs sealants?

Because baby teeth save space for permanent teeth, it’s important to keep them healthy. Some of these teeth may need sealants, particularly if they have deep pits and grooves.

As soon as a child’s permanent 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. Adults can also benefit from sealants. Ask your dentist if this could help keep your smile healthy.

Getting teeth sealed is an easy and painless process:

  • The teeth to be sealed are cleaned.
  • The teeth are dried gently with air, and then cotton is put around them to keep them dry.       
  • The chewing surfaces are roughened 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 dental team will paint the sealant onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens.

“Dental Sealants.” Division of Oral Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, July 10, 2013. Accessed 2013.

“Surveillance for Dental Caries, Dental Sealants, Tooth Retention, Edentulism, and Enamel Fluorosis — United States, 1988–1994 and 1999–2002.” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. E.D. Beltran-Aguilar et al. August 26, 2005, vol. 54, no. 3, pp. 1–44, Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed 2013.

“A Reminder to Parents: Early Dental Visits Essential to Children’s Health.” American Dental Association, February 4, 2008. Accessed 2013.

“Tooth Eruption: The Permanent Teeth.” Journal of the American Dental Association. January 2006, vol. 137, p. 127. Accessed 2013.

“Seal Out Tooth Decay.” National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, August 2012. Accessed 2013.

“Gum Disease.” Mouth Healthy, American Dental Association. Accessed 2013.

“Sealants.” Mouth Healthy, American Dental Association. Accessed 2013.