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Oral Health Topics

Dental Sealants

Key Points
  • The caries process is multifactorial and, over time, can culminate in localized destruction of hard dental tissues by weak acids.
  • Effectively penetrating and sealing pits and fissures in the surfaces of teeth can prevent caries lesions and is part of a comprehensive caries management approach.
  • Sealants are systems that can be applied to the occlusal surfaces of teeth to penetrate anatomic surface pits and fissures and form a physical barrier on the tooth surface.

View Infographics: Sealants are Safe / Sealants Work


  • A 2016 guideline panel convened by the ADA CSA and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) developed a clinical practice guideline based on a systematic review of the literature and recommends use of pit-and-fissure sealants on the occlusal surfaces of primary and permanent molars in children and adolescents:
    • sealants are effective in preventing and arresting pit-and-fissure occlusal caries lesions of primary and permanent molars in children and adolescents compared to the non-use of sealants or use of fluoride varnishes; and
    • sealants can minimize the progression of non-cavitated occlusal caries lesions (also referred to as initial lesions) of the tooth that received the sealant.
  • Although dental materials used to treat and prevent caries, including dental sealants, can contribute to very low level bisphenol A (BPA) exposure for a few hours after placement, based on current evidence, there is no health concern relative to BPA exposure from any dental material.

Sealants are Safe
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Sealants Work
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  • Introduction
  • Types of Sealants
  • Evidence
  • Common Misperceptions
  • Bisphenol A and Dental Sealants
  • References
  • ADA Resources
  • Other Resources
Prepared by: Center for Scientific Information, ADA Science Institute
Reviewed by: Caries Workgroup, ADA Council on Scientific Affairs
Topic last updated: October 19, 2016


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