School-age children (ages 6-11) without sealants have almost 3 times more 1st molar cavities than those with sealants.
- Sealants are thin coatings painted on teeth to protect them from cavities. They flow into the deep grooves of teeth and harden immediately so a child is able to chew right away.
- Sealants prevent the most cavities when applied soon after permanent molars come into the mouth (around age 6 for 1st molars and age 12 for 2nd molars).
- Dental sealants prevent 80% of cavities in the back teeth, where 9 in 10 cavities occur.
- Sealants are a quick, easy, and painless way to prevent most of the cavities children get in the permanent back teeth
- Once applied, sealants protect against 80% of cavities for 2 years and continue to protect against 50% of cavities for up to 4 years.
The grooves and depressions that form on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth are extremely difficult (if not impossible) to clean of bacteria and food. As the bacteria reacts with the food, acids form and break down the tooth enamel, causing cavities. Recent studies indicate that 88 percent of total cavities in American school children are caused this way.
Tooth sealants protect these susceptible areas by sealing the grooves and depressions, preventing bacteria and food particles from residing in these areas. Sealant material is a resin typically applied to the back teeth, molars and premolars and areas prone to cavities. It lasts for several years but needs to be checked during regular appointments.