What are dental sealants, and who should get them?


What are dental sealants, and who should get them?

Dental sealants are a preventive dental treatment designed to protect teeth from decay. They act as a barrier, covering the grooves and dips in the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (molars and premolars) where food particles and plaque often accumulate. Given that these areas are difficult to clean thoroughly with brushing alone, sealants provide an effective way to prevent cavities in these vulnerable areas.

Understanding Dental Sealants

  1. Material: Dental sealants are made from a plastic resin that quickly bonds to the tooth's surface, creating a protective layer over the enamel of each tooth.

  2. Application Process: The process is simple, painless, and can be completed in a single visit to the dentist. The teeth are first cleaned and dried. An acidic solution is then applied to roughen the tooth surface, ensuring a strong bond. After rinsing and drying the tooth again, the sealant is painted onto the enamel, where it hardens either naturally or with the help of a curing light.

  3. Durability: Sealants are very durable and can last for several years before a reapplication is needed. During regular dental visits, your dentist will check the condition of the sealants and reapply them if necessary.

Who Should Get Dental Sealants?

Dental sealants are particularly beneficial for:

  1. Children and Teenagers: Given their higher risk for cavities in the grooves and depressions of premolars and molars, children and teenagers are ideal candidates for sealants. The American Dental Association recommends that sealants be applied as soon as a child's permanent back teeth come in.

  2. Adults Without Fillings or Decay: Adults who don't have fillings or decay in their molars can also benefit from sealants. Sealants provide an added layer of protection against cavities, even for those with good oral hygiene habits.

  3. Individuals at High Risk for Dental Caries: People with a history of tooth decay, those with deep grooves in their teeth, and individuals with certain health conditions that may affect oral health (like diabetes) might be particularly advised to get sealants as a preventive measure.

Benefits of Dental Sealants

  1. Prevention of Tooth Decay: By sealing the grooves and depressions on the chewing surfaces of molars and premolars, sealants prevent food and plaque from getting stuck and causing cavities.

  2. Cost-Effective: The cost of applying sealants is relatively low, especially when compared to the cost of treating cavities with fillings, crowns, or other dental procedures.

  3. Non-Invasive: The application of dental sealants is a non-invasive procedure that requires no drilling or removal of tooth structure, making it an attractive preventive option.

  4. Long-Lasting Protection: With proper care, dental sealants can protect teeth from decay for many years, though they do need to be checked for wear and tear during regular dental visits.

Limitations and Considerations

While dental sealants are highly effective in preventing cavities, they do have limitations:

  1. Not a Substitute for Good Oral Hygiene: Sealants protect the surfaces they cover, but it's still essential to brush twice a day, floss daily, and maintain a healthy diet to protect the rest of the teeth.

  2. Application to Healthy Teeth Only: Sealants can only be applied to teeth without decay or fillings. They're a preventive measure, not a treatment for existing cavities.


Dental sealants are a powerful tool in the fight against tooth decay, offering a simple, painless, and cost-effective way to protect the molars and premolars from cavities. They are particularly beneficial for children and teenagers as their permanent back teeth come in, but adults without fillings or decay can also benefit from the added protection sealants provide. While sealants are an important component of dental care, they do not replace the need for regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups. By incorporating sealants into a comprehensive oral hygiene routine, individuals can significantly reduce their risk of tooth decay and maintain a healthier smile for years to come.