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NC Department of Health and Human Services
NC Division of Public Health
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Dental Sealants

The Facts

01/24/20: The brochures and children's activity sheets formerly available on this page have been temporarily removed pending review and modifications. We apologize for the inconvenience.

dental sealants A dental sealant is a thin plastic coating that covers the chewing surfaces of back teeth (molars) to prevent tooth decay. Most decay occurs on the chewing surfaces of molars. These chewing surfaces can have natural pits and grooves that trap plaque and food particles. Routine brushing cannot remove the plaque and food particles trapped in these pits and grooves. Sealants prevent decay and save the structure of the natural tooth by filling in the pits and grooves and leaving a smooth surface that is easy to clean with normal brushing.

It is best if the sealant is applied soon after the molars have erupted (molar eruption chart; PDF, 243 KB), before the teeth have a chance to develop decay. Sealants can be clear, white, or slightly tinted and cannot be seen when a child talks or smiles. Getting sealants is a painless process that only takes minutes. One sealant application can last up to 10 years with proper dental care. Proper dental care includes regular brushing and flossing and a healthy diet, low in sweets. Dental sealants should be checked regularly by your dentist. A combination of brushing with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing, dental sealants, good nutrition and regular dental check-ups can prevent almost all tooth decay in children.





Updated: January 24, 2020