Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings painted on the chewing surfaces of the molars (the back teeth) to prevent dental decay (cavities). The chewing surfaces on the back teeth are uneven because they have small pits and grooves. Food and bacteria can get stuck in the pits and stay there a long time where toothbrush bristles, floss, and rinses cannot remove them. By covering the chewing surfaces of the molars, sealants keep out the bacteria and food that cause decay. Sealants are safe, painless, and take only minutes for a dental professional to apply. Teeth are brushed clean and sealants are painted onto the teeth. No drilling or anesthesia is required.
What are the benefits of sealants?

Sealants are slippery and make it harder for plaque that causes decay to stick in the pits and grooves of molars. Because sealants can prevent more than 80% of dental decay in children, they reduce the need for fillings and other more expensive treatment. Sealants are an economical preventive measure to keep teeth healthy for years.

Who should have sealants?

All children with permanent molars should have access to sealants. Unfortunately, only 10% of 8 year-olds and 13% of 14 year-olds in California have sealants.

If children use fluoride, do they still need sealants?

Yes, both should be used. Sealants and fluoride work together to prevent dental decay. Sealants prevent decay in the pits and grooves of the chewing surfaces of the molars, while fluoride prevents decay on the smooth surfaces of all teeth.

Are sealants new?

No, dental sealants have been used for over 30 years and are approved by the American Dental Association, the National Institute of Dental Research, and the American Public Health Association.

Does dental insurance cover sealants?
Sealants are a covered dental benefit through Medi-Cal (Denti-Cal) Services, the Healthy Families Program and most private insurance.
How effective are sealants?

Because sealants form a barrier that protects pits and grooves against bacteria and foods, like sugars and starches, the use of sealants can substantially reduce the number of cavities beyond that already achieved by fluorides and other preventive methods.

Numerous studies show that sealants are highly effective in preventing cavities in pits and grooves. These studies cover a span of 26 years and show that in pits and grooves that remain sealed, protection is 100%. If a sealant is damaged or lost, it is easily repaired or replaced.

Even early decay appears to be halted when covered with a sealant. The cavity causing bacteria are unable to survive when cut off from food sources.

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