What are sealants?

Sealants are a thin plastic coating painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth – usually the back teeth (the premolars and molars) – to prevent tooth decay. The paint-on liquid sealant quickly penetrates the grooves of the teeth and is “cured” (hardened) by an intense white light. The result is a bonded shield over the enamel of each tooth.

Who should get sealants?

Because of the likelihood of developing decay in the depressions and grooves of the premolars and molars, children and teenagers are obvious candidates for sealants. However, adults without decay or fillings in their molars can also benefit from sealants.

Typically, children should get sealants on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as these teeth come in. In this way, the dental sealants can protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years of ages 6 to 14.

In some cases, dental sealants may also be appropriate for baby teeth, such as when a child's baby teeth have deep depressions and grooves. Because baby teeth play such an important role in holding the correct spacing for permanent teeth, it is important to keep these teeth healthy so they are not lost too early.