FAQ: What are sealants?
Sealants are a protective coating that can be placed in the deep grooves and pits of permanent molars (and sometimes other teeth). It is a white material that flows into the cleaned enamel, and when the blue light hits the sealant, it is cured and bonded to the tooth surface. Typically sealants can last 5-10 years, but sticky candy (jolly ranchers, laffy taffy, tootsie rolls, etc.) can pull them off, making them ineffective.
Sealants are important because around 42% of children aged 6-19 years have decay in their permanent teeth. Of those, 90% of cavities are found in the pits and fissures of the permanent molars. Sealants can reduce decay in children 86% at one year, 79% at two years, and up to 65% at nine years according to research from the ADA. Since we focus on prevention, we recommend sealants for all permanent molars, and we check the sealants at each visit to make sure they are doing their job of protecting the teeth. They are typically covered well by dental insurance, so they are a great way to protect your child’s teeth.
There was some concern in the past with BPA in dental sealants, and also with fluoride-releasing sealants. In our office, we use Clinpro from 3M ESPE, which contains no fluoride or BPA. Another factor unique to our office is the use of the Isolite system. Sealants placed with even slight moisture can fail quicker and will not protect the teeth as well as sealants placed in a dry field. The Isolite ensures that the child’s saliva is suctioned out during the entire procedure, and even reduces the humidity in the mouth to provide the best bonding and sealant retention possible. We can place the sealants in as little as 10 minutes on all four molars.