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What is a dental sealant and who should get it?

A dental sealant is a thin, plastic coating applied to teeth with ridges and grooves, typically the molar teeth. Bacteria and bits of food can collect in the pits and cracks—or fissures—in the teeth. These are areas where toothbrush bristles can’t reach. A sealant helps protect the chewing surfaces of adult molars against decay.

Sealants are recommended for children with high risk of decay as soon as adult molars come in, or “erupt.” Sealants are typically placed on the six-year and twelve-year molars. Dental sealants can partially wear off or come away over time, so it is important to keep up with regular dental visits so that the dentist can monitor wear and reapply as necessary.

Sealants are recommended by dentists because they are extremely effective. In fact, the CDC recently found that sealants prevent 80 percent of cavities in molars. Many cavities occur in molars, so protecting those teeth is critical. 

Learn more about dental sealants

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