Defending Your Children’s Teeth

Defending Your Children’s Teeth (and Dentists): The Value of SealantsPlastic coatings applied to the surfaces of teeth aren’t just effective; they’re also cost-effective.

Your dentist has probably offered dental sealants for your child. Mine has. Without knowing whether they work, I’ve always accepted them. Turns out, this was a good move.

Introduced in the 1960s, dental sealants are plastic coatings applied to the surfaces of teeth. They fill in and seal pits and grooves of teeth, making them more resistant to bacteria that can cause cavities. Because molars are more cavity-prone, sealants are usually applied there. Dental sealants are most often recommended when children’s first, permanent molars come in — between ages 5 and 7 — and again when their “12-year molars” arrive — usually between ages 11 and 14. Dentists may also offer sealants for older children and for adults prone to cavities.