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Dental Sealants Shield Kids from Tooth Decay

A dentist can protect your child’s teeth from cavities with an invisible plastic coating called a dental sealant.1 The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend sealants as powerful weapons in our arsenal against decay.1,3

Sealants are usually applied to the chewing surface of back teeth, filling the tiny grooves and pits where bacteria often lodge, and where most children’s and teens’ cavities develop.4 If bacteria can’t penetrate a tooth’s enamel, they can’t multiply and cause decay.2 Recent research shows that sealants not only protect healthy teeth, but also can actually stop decay in its beginning stages, preventing future cavities.1

Applying a sealant can have the most benefits when your child’s second set, or permanent, molars have just erupted—before they have a chance to begin to decay. Most children’s first molars appear between the ages of 5 to 7 years and the second permanenet molars appear between 11 and 14 years of age.4,5

Applying the sealant is a quick and simple process. There is very little discomfort, if any, and your child will be able to eat immediately afterward.1

Your child’s sealants can last for as long as five to 10 years. They should be checked at regular dental exams and can be reapplied if necessary.4 

1 “Dental Sealants: Preventing and Halting Decay.” Journal of the American Dental Association. March 2008, vol. 139, p. 380. Accessed 2010.

2 “Sealants.” American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Accessed 2010.

3 “Oral Health Policies: Policy on Third-Party Reimbursement of Fees Related to Dental Sealants.” American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, 2006. Accessed 2010.

4 “Dental Sealants.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Oral Health, September 2, Accessed 2010.

5 “Tooth Eruption: The Permanent Teeth." Journal of the American Dental Association. January 2006, vol. 137, p. 127. Accessed 2010.

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