Pit & Fissure Sealants

What are dental sealants?

Sealants are thin, plastic coatings painted on the chewing surfaces of back teeth.

They will help prevent the germs and food from getting stuck in the little pits and fissures where children are most susceptible to getting cavities.  Though dental sealants are not a cure-all in preventing tooth decay, they are the most cost effective solution to preventing cavities in certain areas of the mouth! 

Who should get sealants?

Children should get sealants on their permanent teeth as soon as the teeth erupt and before decay attacks the tooth.  Around age 6, the “six year molars” will erupt and around age 12, the “twelve year molars” will follow.  Between those ages, the “premolars” or “bicuspids” come in and need to be sealed if the child is rather prone to cavities.  Not all children need to have their bicuspids sealed.

Teenagers and young adults without decay or fillings on their molars also may need sealants.

Should sealants be placed on baby teeth?

Generally we don’t recommend sealants for baby teeth.  Baby teeth are generally not as deeply grooved as permanent teeth.  Dr. Chunn believes that it is an unnecessary expense to protect the baby teeth with sealants unless the young child is particularly susceptible to decay.  If cost is not an issue, by all means sealants will benefit baby teeth.  Baby teeth play an important role in maintaining the proper space available for the permanent teeth.  Early removal of certain baby teeth will almost guarantee future crowding problems and possible jaw development problems.

How long do sealants last?

We have seen sealants last up to 10 years.  But they need to be checked at regular intervals (check-ups) to make sure they are not chipped or worn away.  We can repair sealants by adding more sealant material.  Our office policy is that if we find decay where we have placed a sealant within the past 18 months, the decay will be removed and a restoration will be placed with no fee involved.

How much do sealants cost?

Sealing one tooth costs less than half the cost of one simple filling.  Having sealants put on healthy teeth now will save you money in the long run by avoiding fillings and crowns later in life.  The most important reason for getting sealants is to avoid tooth decay.  Healthy teeth will last a lifetime.  Most good insurance policies pay for sealants at or near 100% on molars only.  Check with your company for details.

Are sealants new?

No.  Sealants were developed in the early 1960’s.  All dentists and dental hygienists are trained in the benefit and application of sealants.  Unfortunately, not all people know about the wonderful benefits of sealants.

Is it hard on the patient to get sealants?

No.  In fact it’s unbelievably fast and easy.  No anesthesia is involved.  The tooth is first cleaned.  Then cotton is placed around the tooth so it can be kept dry.  A solution is put on the tooth to make the surface a little rough.  The tooth is then rinsed and dried.  The sealant is applied with a special brush and a special light is placed on the sealant for a few seconds to allow the sealant to harden.  That’s it!

What else can I do to protect my children’s teeth?

Good oral hygiene at home, regular visits to the dental office, sealants, and fluoride can allow a child to grow up without ever developing a single cavity.