Children's Dentistry |2 min read

What Are Dental Sealants and How Long Do They Last?

A young girl sitting in the dentist's chair

If left untreated, cavities can lead to infection, causing pain and difficulty eating and speaking.

As a result, children may have a harder time focusing, learning, and generally enjoying life.

One of the most effective ways to protect your child’s teeth from cavities is to get them tooth sealants.

Tooth sealants are thin gel coatings typically applied to rear teeth. Sealants protect chewing surfaces from cavities by covering them with a thin layer of insulating material.

Of course, tooth sealants don’t last forever, so parents rightly want to know how long they’ll protect their child’s teeth for.

We have prepared the following questions and answers to help you make the best choices for your child.

How long do tooth sealants last?

Sealants have been shown to still be effective up to ten years after application.

However, they can fall off in certain scenarios, so Dr. Wilkerson should check them regularly. Missing or damaged sealants are easy to replace.

Is sealing a tooth better than filling a cavity?

Yes. A cavity-free tooth is healthier and stronger than a tooth with cavities or fillings.

Sealants are easier to apply than fillings, pain-free, and less expensive – and they prevent cavities from appearing in the first place.

Does tooth sealant hurt when applied?

No pain is felt during the application process. The tooth is cleaned, the gel is applied, and a light is used to harden the gel – no drilling or cutting is involved.

How early should I have sealants put on my child’s teeth?

Sealants are most effective when applied shortly after permanent molars grow in.

A child’s first set of molars grow between ages 6 and 7, and the 2nd set when they are between 12 and 13 years old.

Will the sealant be noticeable?

Sealants are virtually unnoticeable when a child smiles or talks. Sealants can be white, transparent, or slightly tinted.

Do teeth treated with dental sealants require special care?

No, but proper care is vital to keep all teeth healthy.

Be sure to encourage your child to brush twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and floss daily.

Developing good oral hygiene habits at a young age can save them considerable money and pain in the future.

What foods should be avoided with sealants?

Some dentists will recommend avoiding candies and ice after tooth sealant is applied.

Similarly, sticky foods such as caramels and gummy candy are best avoided, as they can stick to sealant and pull it off.

Does insurance cover the cost of sealants?

Most insurance will cover the cost of dental sealants, but typically only for patients younger than 18.

If you want more information about dental sealants, learn more here or book an appointment today.


I find it truly rewarding to make a real impact on the lives of families in our community here in Charleston, WV. My office happily serves our surrounding areas, including Beckley, Lewisburg, Parkersburg, & Huntington.

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