What is a sealant?

A sealant is a thin layer of bonding material, a small amount of filling material that is applied over the 6 and 12-year molars. This is typically done in children to help prevent cavities. Although they don't completely prevent cavities, they reduce the risk by about 75%.

Why do we need sealants?

Sealants are needed for back molars that emerge at 6 and 12 years, which often have very narrow pits and grooves. The bristles of a toothbrush cannot reach these spots to clean them, or there could be a gap. To seal this gap and prevent cavity formation and bacteria infiltration into the pit where it cannot be cleaned, we apply a sealant on the tooth.

How is a sealant applied?

The sealant is a very soft, liquid filling material that is simply painted on the tooth. There is no need for numbing or drilling, and the procedure is very safe, effective, completely reversible, and bonded onto the tooth. We then check the bite to ensure it's okay.

When should a sealant be applied?

We always recommend this procedure for children as soon as the 6-year molar comes in around age 6, or the 12-year molar comes in around age 12. Sealing the tooth only takes a few minutes and is typically done during a cleaning visit. It is generally covered 100% by insurance.

What are the aftercare procedures for a sealant?

After a sealant is applied, you can continue with your normal activities - eat, drink, brush, floss - just like you would with a normal tooth; there are no restrictions. However, your tooth can still develop decay, so it's important to continue brushing it and other parts of the tooth. We are not sealing the entire tooth, just the pits and grooves. You should still brush and floss, but the sealant will reduce the risk of a cavity in the pit and groove by about 75%.

How long does it take to apply a sealant?

Applying a sealant only takes about 5 minutes and is usually done during a hygiene check. If you have more questions about sealants or if you are worried that your child may need sealants, feel free to call us at the office at (703) 451-4500.