skip to content

It's a New Day in Public Health.

The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote & improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county, & community efforts.

skip to content

Dental Sealants

Dental

  •  407-858-1478
  •  

    Mailing Address

    6101 Lake Ellenor Drive 

    Orlando FL 32809 

     

What are Dental Sealants?   Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings, which are applied to the chewing surface of the back teeth to prevent decay.  Most tooth decay in children and adolescents occur on the chewing surfaces of these back teeth or molars.  This is because molars have irregular surfaces with pits and grooves which tend to trap food and bacterial debris.  Sealants flow into and coat these pits and grooves so that bacteria cannot multiply and cause decay.

Which Teeth are Suitable For Sealants? The teeth most likely to benefit from sealant applications are the first and second molars just after they have erupted and before they have had a chance to decay.  First molars generally appear at about six (6) years of age and second molars at about twelve (12) years of age.  Once a tooth has matured, it is less prone to decay.  Children between the ages of five (5) and fourteen (14) benefit most from sealants.  After an examination, a dentist will determine which teeth can be sealed.

How are they Applied? Applying sealants is quite simple and may be done by a dentist, dental hygienist or qualified dental assistant.  First, the teeth are cleaned.  Then the teeth to be sealed are dabbed with a very mild acid solution similar in strength to vinegar or lemon juice.  This roughens the tooth surface slightly so that the sealant will bond to it properly.  After the tooth is prepared, the sealant is painted into the tooth.  It flows into the pits and grooves and hardens in about 60 seconds.  After sealing, bacteria cannot reach the pits and grooves, and cause decay.  Applying sealants requires no drilling or removal of tooth surface.

Are Sealants Visible? Yes, sealants can be seen upon close examination of the back teeth.  Sealants can be clear, white or slightly tinted.  Remember, sealants are used only on the back teeth and cannot be seen when a child talks or smiles.  Parents can check children’s teeth periodically to see if the sealants are still in place.

Will Sealants Make Teeth Feel Different? Sealants will not result in any = change in bite because they are very thin and only fill the pits and grooves.  At first, the tooth may feel bulkier, but in a few days of normal chewing will wear the sealants into place.

Have Sealants Been Thoroughly Tested? Yes.  Thousands of children across the United States and in other countries have had their teeth sealed in controlled clinical studies.  These have shown sealants to be effective, easy to apply, inexpensive and nontoxic.  Sealants are approved and have been recommended by the American Dental Association, the National Institute of Dental Research and the American Public Health Association.

How Long Will Dental Sealants Last? A sealant application can last for as long as five years and often longer.  Sealants should be checked regularly and reapplied when they appear to have worn off. Because teeth are most susceptible to decay when they are young, preventing decay during the first five (5) to fifteen (15) years after a tooth erupts is critical.

Will Sealants Replace Fluoride?No.  Fluoride such as those used in fluoridated water, fluoride toothpaste and fluoride mouth rinse help prevent decay on the smooth surfaces of the teeth. However, fluorides have less effect on the rough, pitted chewing surfaces of the back teeth where food particles and decay-producing bacteria are trapped. Sealants, however, are only effective on the uneven chewing surfaces

How Do Sealants Fit Into a Preventive Dentistry Program? For maximum benefit, sealants should be used as part of a child’s total preventive dental care. A dentist should examine the child’s teeth and gums regularly to check bite, tooth eruption and the condition of both hard and soft tissues. A complete preventive dentistry program also includes: brushing and flossing, use of fluorides, good nutrition and regular dental check-ups.

Why is Sealing a Tooth Better than Waiting for Decay and Filling a Cavity? Sealants help to maintain sound intact teeth.  Decay destroys the structure of the tooth.  Each time a tooth is filled or a filling is replaced, additional tooth structure is lost.  Amalgam fillings last an average of six (6) to eight (8) years before they need to be replaced.  Appropriate use of sealants can save time, money and the discomfort associated with restorative dental procedures.

What if Microscopic Amounts of Decay are Inadvertently Sealed? If decay and decay-causing bacteria are trapped beneath the sealant, they will stop multiplying.  The bacteria will be cut off from oxygen and carbohydrates needed to flourish.  Their numbers will decline and decay will not progress.

Do Sealants Cost More Than Fillings? Although the cost of sealing teeth may vary, the cost is consistently less than having a tooth filled.