Consumer News: Evidence show youth strongly benefit from dental sealants

Besides brushing and flossing, there is another way to protect one's teeth from cavities.

Research published in the August issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association shows dental sealants can greatly reduce the risk of tooth decay in the back teeth known as molars in children and adolescents who have had sealant applied to those teeth.

The research determined that youth treated with dental sealants, which are thin, protective coatings that adhere to the chewing surface of molars, have about a 70 to 80 percent reduction in the occurrence of cavities, compared with those who do not receive sealants. Furthermore, there no reports of any adverse outcomes or health concerns related to use of sealants.

Both children and adults can benefit from sealants, but the earlier they are applied, the better, according to the ADA website, Sealing molars as soon as they come in can keep them cavity-free from the start.

How do sealants work? They act like "raincoats for your teeth," according to "When the cavity-causing bacteria that live in everyone's mouth meet leftover food particles, they produce acids that can create holes in teeth. These holes are cavities. After sealant has been applied, it keeps those bits of food out and stops bacteria and acid from settling on your teeth – just like a raincoat keeps you clean and dry during a storm."

Sealants, which can often last for several years before they need reapplied, can be used over areas of early decay to stop the cavity from getting worse. Some dental insurance plans cover them.

To see the research in the August issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association, visit To see more consumer friendly information about dental sealants from the ADA, visit

© 2017 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

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What to Expect During a SEALANT Procedure

Placing dental sealants is usually painless and doesn't require drilling or numbing medications.

  1. Tooth preparation – first, the dental hygienist will polish the surface of the tooth to remove plaque and food debris from the pit and fissure surfaces. Next the hygienist will isolate and dry the tooth. Then the hygienist will etch the surface of the tooth, rinse off the etching material and dry the tooth.

  2. Sealant application – the hygienist will apply the dental sealant material to the surface of the tooth with a brush; a self-curing light will be used for about 30 seconds to bond the sealant to the tooth surface.

  3. Evaluation – finally, the dental hygienist and dentist will evaluate the dental sealant and check its occlusion. Once the dental sealant has hardened it becomes a hard plastic coating, and you can chew on the tooth again.

Teeth are sealed, what’s next?

Brushing is still important even after sealants. Try one of these products to help keep your teeth clean and healthy.