28 May 2018
May 28, 2018

What Are Dental Sealants?

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Dental sealants are plastic coatings that are normally placed on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. These teeth have grooves that can be deep and tough to clean, putting them at risk for plaque accumulation and decay. Fluoride treatments can help to protect all of the teeth in the mouth, but dental sealants provide extra protection for the grooved back teeth by creating a smooth surface that plaque and debris cannot penetrate.

Young girl with brown hair having a dental procedure done at the dentist.

When to Use Dental Sealants

The ideal time to place the first dental sealant is as soon as the first permanent molar erupts beyond the gumline. As the remaining molars and premolars erupt, typically until the child is 11 to 13 years old, they should also be sealed. The sooner the teeth are protected by sealants, the more protection the sealants will offer.

Dental sealants are not often used on adults, but may be recommended if your teeth have deep grooves or fissures that are not already filled, or if you are at a particularly high risk for cavities. Dental sealants are normally placed only on the molars and premolars, but they may be used on other teeth that are grooved or pitted. They are occasionally recommended for baby teeth that have deep grooves.

What Do Dental Sealants Look Like?

Since they are typically placed on the back teeth, the exact appearance of dental sealants typically does not matter. However, if they are placed on teeth further forward, it is aesthetically important for the sealants to be invisible. Different brands and formulations have different appearances, but they are typically clear, white, or slightly tinted. We will work hard to ensure that sealed teeth retain the same appearance as non-sealed teeth. 

What Should I Expect from the Process?

First, we will thoroughly clean your tooth’s surface with a paste and a rotating brush, and then fully rinse and dry it. Next, we will place an acidic solution on the grooved area of the tooth for several seconds and then rinse it away. This roughs up the tooth a bit, giving the sealant a better way to adhere. 

We will then dry the tooth completely and then paint on the liquid dental sealant. We will use a special light to harden the sealant into a tough plastic coating that you can chew on normally.

Do Dental Sealants Need to Be Reapplied?

Dental sealants provide a durable coating that can last for years. However, your sealants should be checked regularly for signs of chipping or peeling. If needed, we can replace sealants at any time.

Do I Still Need Fluoride if I Have Dental Sealants?

If your dentist has recommended fluoride, you should continue to use it even with dental sealants. The sealants will protect only the areas where they placed. Fluoride will help to protect all of your teeth from cavities and dental decay.


At Family Dental Care of Bellevue, we are committed to providing quality dental care to our patients and their families. We are proud to have been voted one of the best dental offices in Washington State. If you are ready to take the first steps toward improving your dental health, we invite you to call 425-643-5778 today to make an appointment for your initial consultation.

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