Dental Sealants and Dental Fluoride

baby brushing his teeth sealants
Many of you have been told (or will soon be told) that your child should have dental sealants and fluoride. So what are dental sealants and why does your child “need” fluoride? We’ll try to shed some light on those questions here.

While there is a great deal of controversy around ingesting fluoride in drinking water, there is little debate that fluoride administered by dentists has a huge impact on a child’s oral health. It’s also nice to know that there is very little controversy about sealants on children’s primary teeth and the good they do.

What are dental sealants?

Dental sealants (AKA tooth sealants) are a very thin coat of resin that is applied using a small brush to the surface of your primary chewing teeth (molars or back teeth). The resin is creaming and flows easily into the grooves and pits on the surface of the tooth. Thus the small spaces where food could easily be trapped is filled in with the sealant.

Once the sealant has filled in all the hard-to-clean areas the dentist or dental assistant uses a special UV light to cure the resin to a hard, protective layer.

Why should my child get dental sealants?

Simply put, to avoid future tooth decay. Sealants are almost a requirement to avoid costly and potentially painful tooth decay (cavities and root canals) in the future. While routine brushing and flossing work wonders, sealants are a great way to ensure the health of their teeth. Especially if your child eats or drinks sugary foods.

How much do dental sealants cost?

The cost of dental sealants is about $75 per tooth. However if you have dental insurance and visit a contracted or in-network dentist then the price may be significantly lower.

Does dental insurance cover sealants?

Absolutely. Most dental insurance plans cover dental sealants up to age 12 or 13. Because dental sealants are so effective at avoiding future cavities dental insurance plans are usually willing to cover 80-100% of the cost. So there is no reason not to have them for your child.

How long do dental sealants last?

Dental or tooth sealants can last a very long time. Most sealants last up to ten or more years. However, every mouth and every tooth is different and they may need to be replaced periodically. If patients grind their teeth or frequently eat abrasive foods they sealants will wear out sooner. The good news is sealants are very easy to repair or replace.

What is dental fluoride?

Children happy about their sealants smiling
Dental fluoride helps to prevent cavities from forming in children’s teeth. It works in two different ways. First the flouride concentrates in the growing bones and developing teeth of children, helping to harden the enamel on baby teeth and adult teeth before the emerge. Second, fluoride helps to harden the enamel on adult teeth that have already emerged. Some of our adult patients are surprised when we recommend a flouride rinse for their sensitivity. Flouride is not just for children - its for all teeth.

If you have any questions about your children’s teeth and whether or not to have sealants or fluoride please give us a call. We can probably answer most questions over the phone.

Questions about sealants or fluoride? E-mail or call us:


Dr. Sherry Tsai provides sealants and flouride for children and adults near Millbrae, San Bruno, Burlingame, San Mateo and the Bay Area

88 Capuchino Dr.  
Millbrae CA 94030

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