|Q What are sealants?
A Sealants are a safe and painless way or protecting your
children’s teeth from decay. A sealant is a protective plastic coating,
which is applied to the biting surfaces of the back teeth. The sealant
forms a hard shield that keeps food and bacteria from getting into the
tiny grooves in the teeth and causing decay.
Q Which teeth should be sealed?
A Sealants are only applied to the back teeth – the molars and
premolars. These are the teeth that have pits and fissures on their
biting surfaces. Your dentist will tell you which teeth should be sealed
after they have examined them, and checked whether the fissures are deep
enough for sealing to help. Some teeth naturally form with deep grooves,
which will need to be sealed, others with shallow ones which will not
Q What is involved?
A The process is usually quick and straightforward taking only a
few minutes per tooth. The tooth is thoroughly cleaned, prepared with a
special solution, and dried. The liquid sealant is then applied and
allowed to set hard – usually by shining an ultraviolet light onto it.
Q Will my child feel it?
A No, it is totally pain free, and the teeth do not feel any
How long do they last?
A Sealants usually last for many years, but your dentist will
want to check them regularly to make sure that the seal is still intact.
They can wear over time, and sometimes the dentist needs to add or
replace some sealant to be sure that no decay can start underneath them.
Q How do they work?
A The sealant forms a smooth, protective barrier, by covering all
the little grooves and dips in the surface of the tooth. Dental decay
easily starts in these grooves.
When should this be done?
A Sealants are often applied as soon as the permanent teeth start
to come through. This is usually between 6 and 7 years of age. The rest
are usually sealed as soon as they appear which can be any time between
11 and 14 years of age.
Q How much does it cost?
A Most dentists offer fissure sealing. It may be available on the
NHS and is not expensive. But in many cases it is available only
privately. The cost varies from dentist to dentist, but it is usually
Q Do my children still have to clean their
A Yes. It is still vital that they do this. The smooth, sealed
surface is now much easier to keep clean and healthy with normal
toothbrushing. Using a fluoride toothpaste will also help to protect
your children’s teeth. Pit and fissure sealing reduces tooth decay and
the number of fillings your child might need.
Q Whom do I ask about the treatment?
A If you would like to know more about the treatment, ask your
dentist or hygienist. They will tell you if fissure sealing will help
your children’s teeth, and if it is the right time to do it.