What To Know About Dental Sealants for Kids

Child smiling at the dentist after her appointment. posted by Dr. Eric Kimball, DDS on 1/31/2024 in General

Dental sealants, also known as pit and fissure sealants or fissure sealants, are thin coatings adhered to the chewing surface of your back teeth (molars). These protective coatings are designed to prevent tooth decay. Sealants are a standard dental procedure ideal for all ages but are highly recommended for children. Learn what you need to know about dental sealants for children.

Should Children Get Dental Sealants? 

Yes, children should get dental sealants. While they aren’t required, they are highly recommended. Our back molars have deep pits and grooves atop them, where food and bacteria can get trapped and aren’t easily removed with a toothbrush. This can cause tooth decay and cavities, which could eventually lead to invasive dental work like fillings, crowns, or root canals. Sealants protect the pits and grooves in molars by filling them, making it easy to remove debris and keep those hard-to-reach teeth healthy. 

Sealants are especially important for kids because cavities are one of the most common conditions among children and teens. Children are still learning proper dental hygiene, so having extra measures in place like sealants, can help protect their permanent teeth from decay. 

Fast Facts About Dental Sealants for Kids

Dental sealants are a safe, simple, and effective way to protect your child’s permanent molars. Here are some things to consider as you determine whether or not your child should get dental sealants.

  • No recovery time. Sealants are a same-day procedure that requires no downtime. You can resume eating and drinking as normal after the appointment. 
  • Quick, painless procedure. Sealants don’t hurt to get and are pretty quick to apply—they only take two to three minutes per tooth. 
  • Insurance coverage. Many insurance plans cover dental sealants for children under 18. Check with your provider to see if dental sealants are covered by your plan.
  • Material. Sealants are typically made of resin (synthetic or plant) or glass ionomers (glass powder combined with water-soluble acid).
  • Low maintenance needs. Sealants typically last up to 10 years. They don’t have any special care requirements. 
  • Placement requirements. Sealants can’t be adhered to teeth with existing cavities or decay. If they aren’t placed properly on the teeth, they can seal in harmful bacteria and lead to cavities. Teeth with crowns or fillings, or teeth that are partially erupted (grown in) aren’t a candidate for sealants. 
  • Eating restrictions. Extremely hard, sticky, or chewy foods should be eaten in moderation as they can wear down dental sealants over time. 
  • When to get dental sealants. This will vary depending on when the child’s adult molars fully grow in. First molars typically grow in around six years old, and second molars grow in around 12 years old. Your dentist may recommend sealants be applied to baby teeth if your child’s teeth have deep pits and fissures. Sealants are also recommended for adults—this preventive care can offer the same benefits 

Find a Pediatric Dentist in Iowa 

Comfortable, professional dental care can be hard to come by. At Kimball & Beecher, we’re proud to help people throughout Iowa achieve dental health—whether you need dental sealants for children, a regular cleaning and exam, or more extensive dental work, we’re here to help. 

Contact us today at any of our locations or schedule an appointment online.

About The Author

Dr. Eric Kimball, DDS

Dr. Eric Kimball practices in our Waterloo office. Dr. Kimball was raised in Independence Iowa and graduated high school there in 1991. After high school we went onto Wartburg College where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Biology in 1995. He married his high school sweetheart and now t ... read more

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