What is a sealant?

A dental sealant is a very small layer of bonding material placed into the grooves of an adult tooth. While any tooth can be sealed, we primarily use sealants for upper and lower first molars.

At what age should sealants be placed?

We most often place sealants in children who are 5 - 7 years old, as this is the age where the first molars tend to erupt. We seal these molars because they are the teeth that will be in the person's mouth the longest, so it's important to protect these teeth from decay early on. Adults who have a high rate of cavities can also have sealants placed, but it's more common to use sealants in children.

Does it hurt to have a sealant placed?

No. We will roughen the grooves in the tooth to improve bonding, but we rarely need to use local anesthetic for the procedure.

Do all new molars need sealants?

Whether or not a tooth should be sealed depends upon a number of factors: the child's cavity rate, oral hygiene and the depth of the grooves. If a tooth has very shallow grooves, then sealants are less beneficial vs. teeth with very deep grooves that tend to capture and trap food debris and bacteria.