Dental Sealants

Children who have their molar teeth covered by a resin based sealant are less likely to get dental decay in their molar teeth than children without sealant

The deep grooves in back teeth accumulate bacteria and are often the first areas to get decay.  Sealants are coatings applied by the dentist into these grooves. These coatings are intended to seal the grooves to prevent the growth of bacteria that cause decay. A review by the Cochrane Foundation shows that after 4.5 years the sealed permanent molar teeth of children aged 5 to 10 had reduction of decay in over 50% of biting surfaces compared to teeth without sealants. The Cochrane Library 2004

A 2011 report cites a study stating that sealing the 6 yr old permanent molar resulted in a 76.3% reduced incidence of decay after 4 years.  It also quotes a second 15 year follow-up report.  After one single application of a sealant to a group of children after 15 years 31% of teeth had needed a filling.  The test group without sealants had 82% of teeth requiring filling.  It was speculated that we could approach 100% prevention of this type of decay with maintenance resealing when necessary.  Australian Dental Journal 2011;56:(1 Suppl):45-58

The following pictures show a preventive sealant placed on a 6 year old molar.

These 2 yr old pink sealants are high fluoride release and used on our younger patients.  They stop bacteria growth in the deep grooves, allow fluoride to penetrate the weakest area of the tooth, and allow natural minerals in the saliva to pass through and help mature the erupting tooth.  They should be placed as soon as possible after the tooth has erupted into the mouth – around 6 years old and again at 12 years old.  The metal fillings were placed in these other teeth many years ago.  It is one of the first areas that people often get decay in their teeth.  These days we can place tooth coloured fillings here, but trying to prevent the filling is our ultimate goal.

Below is the amount of decay found in an adult with unsealed teeth.