Dental benefits

Seal the deal and protect your teeth

Dental sealants provide one more way to fight against cavities — beyond brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, drinking fluoridated water and flossing daily. This preventive step can help you avoid the much higher cost of fillings or crowns that may be needed if you develop tooth decay — one of the most common chronic diseases in the United States.1

Here’s how sealants work:

Your dentist or dental hygienist applies a thin protective coating on the chewing surface of your molars, those teeth in the back of your mouth that can be difficult to reach with a toothbrush. That’s where 9 out of 10 cavities occur.2 The sealants fill in the grooves of those teeth, creating a barrier to keep cavity-causing bacteria out.

Both children and adults who don’t already have tooth decay or fillings in their molars can get sealants. They’re most effective, however, when applied shortly after a child’s permanent molars appear, between the ages of 5 and 14. Sealants are not permanent and must usually be reapplied after several years.

About 1 in 5 children will have untreated tooth decay by the time they’re 19,3 putting them at greater risk for missing school and receiving lower grades. Studies show sealants can be effective in fighting this statistic:

• Sealants protect against 80% of cavities in the back teeth for two years, 50% of cavities for four years and can continue to work for up to nine years.4

• Children ages 6 to 11 without sealants are three times more likely to develop cavities in their molars.5

Only 43%

of children ages 6 to 11 have sealants.6

Having sealants applied is quick and painless. The procedure takes only a few minutes per tooth. After your teeth are cleaned and dried, the surface is roughened slightly to make bonding easier. Then, sealants are painted on your enamel, where it bonds and hardens.

Talk with your dentist about when you or your children should get sealants. Many dental plans cover sealants for children under 18, although benefits only include sealants on back teeth. Be aware that adult sealants are not normally covered. Check with your plan for details on whether sealants and reapplications are covered.