KidsMD Health Topics

Sealants

  • Overview

    Dental sealants are thin, plastic films painted on the surfaces of the back teeth-on molars and premolars, and are highly effective in preventing tooth decay (caries and cavities). Dental sealants are particularly effective on the back teeth, as the back teeth contain more hard-to-reach pits and grooves that have food and plaque build-up.

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    Children's Hospital Boston
    300 Longwood Avenue
    Hunnewell 4
    Boston MA 02115

     617-355-6571
     fax: 617-730-0478


  • In-Depth

    How can my child benefit from dental sealants?

    Sealants are especially beneficial for children because their newly erupted, permanent teeth are most susceptible to cavities and least benefited by fluoride. However, patients of all ages can benefit from dental sealants.

    How effective are dental sealants?

    Because the sealants act as a physical barrier to decay and plaque build-up, in most cases, they provide 100 percent protection.

    • The most important variable is how well the dental sealant adheres to your child's teeth.
    • Research shows that sealants actually stop cavities when placed on top of a slightly decayed tooth.
    • The sealant seals off the supply of nutrients to the bacteria that causes the cavity.
    • A dental sealant becomes ineffective when all or part of the bond between the tooth and the sealant is broken.

    What does the procedure involve?

    • The procedure starts with cleaning the surface of the tooth, rinsing the surface to remove all traces of the cleaning agent, and drying the tooth.
    • A solution or gel is applied to the surface of the tooth, including the pits and grooves, to make the surface of the tooth rough.
    • After several seconds, the solution is thoroughly rinsed away with water and the site is dried.
    • The liquid sealant is then applied and allowed to harden.

    How long will a sealant last?

    With proper oral hygiene, sealants may last five to 10 years.

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