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Guide to Dental Sealants for Children

A Guide to Dental Sealants for Children

April 14, 2017
Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease in the United States. In Washington State, nearly 40% of kindergarteners have cavities and 58% of third graders have them.

Cavities are caused by a chemical reaction that happens when we eat or drink. The germs and bacteria in our mouths feed off of sugar in foods we eat. The process releases acid which wears away our tooth enamel over time. Tooth enamel is a hard, natural protective coating on our teeth. The acid weakens the enamel and exposes underlying dentin and leads to cavities.

Early cavity prevention is extremely important. Tooth decay in baby teeth leads to tooth decay in permanent teeth. Tooth decay in adults leads to a lifetime of oral health problems.

Fortunately, cavities are preventable. Brushing, flossing and regular dental check-ups are essential to keeping your child’s teeth healthy. And getting dental sealants for your child provides additional protection against tooth decay. 

Dental sealants are thin, plastic, protective coatings a dentist places on the chewing surfaces of your child’s molars (back teeth). They fill the deep grooves that are hard for children to properly clean by brushing. These grooves are where harmful bacteria likes to hide and cavities are most common. The protective layer added by dental sealants helps prevent up to 80% of cavities.

Here’s some additional information about dental sealants:

Dental sealants contain safe levels of BPA

BPA, or Bisphenol A, is a common chemical found in many plastic products. Dental sealants are plastic and contain extremely low levels of BPA. According to the American Dental Association, we’re exposed to 100x more BPA by simply breathing than what’s contained in dental sealants.

If you’re concerned about BPA in dental sealants, talk to your child’s dentist. There are BPA-free dental sealant materials available. Your child’s dentist will help you decide which option is best for your child.

Dental sealants are recommended for children ages 5 to 14


The ADA recommends dental sealants for children ages 5 to 14. Your child should get sealants as soon as their first permanent molars come in, between the ages of 5 and 7. Then, they will need to go back to their dentist to have dental sealants applied to their second set of permanent molars. That’s usually between ages 11 and 14. Sealants are also a good fit for teenagers who are prone to cavities.

Dental sealants are a covered benefit


Dental sealants are a preventive (Class I) benefit and are covered at the same level as regular cleanings and exams. Most of our plans cover preventive services and sealants at 100%.

Dental sealants are affordable


Since they’re a preventive benefit, dental sealants cost you little to nothing out-of-pocket. Create or sign in to your MySmile® account and use MySmile Cost Genie® to get a cost estimate based on your child’s specific benefits and dentist. It’ll tell you how much dental sealants will cost for your child.

Put your child on the path to a lifelong, healthy smile. Talk to their dentist about dental sealants.

Looking for a pediatric dentist for your child? Create or sign in to your MySmile® account to search for one near you. You can even filter your results by patient endorsements!

Shopping for dental coverage? We offer 5 individual plans designed to meet any smile's needs or budget.

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