Dental sealants prevent cavities. In fact, children with sealants on their teeth have half the cavities that other kids do. It also costs about three times as much to fill a cavity as it does to get a dental sealant put on a tooth. Sealants are plastic material painted on the surface of teeth. The plastic bonds to the tooth and forms a protective barrier. Basic Facts About Dental Sealants Cavities and tooth decay start when food particles and mouth germs get into pits and grooves on the surface of teeth. Sealants cover up these surfaces. Sealants are easy and painless. A dentist or dental assistant simply paints the sealant over the top of the tooth and lets it dry. The dentist may use a bright light to speed up drying. The sealant hardens on the tooth after about a minute. Here's what to know: Sealants fill and seal pits and grooves on the chewing surface of teeth. You can get sealants at any age. They are most helpful at a young age, before cavities and tooth decay begin. Sealants are usually only for the permanent back teeth. That's where cavities and decay occur most often. Sealants don’t make teeth look or feel different. Sealants can protect teeth from cavities and decay for up to 10 years. The Cost of Sealants The cost of sealing a tooth depends on where you live and what your dentist charges. Many insurance companies cover the cost. Children may qualify for a school-based sealant program if their parents don't have dental insurance. Even if you have to pay out of pocket, most people only need sealants for a few teeth, and they are a lot cheaper than cavity fillings. Tooth decay can damage teeth permanently. You may end up needing more extensive dental work in the future. Sealants save time, money, and the misfortune of potential root canals and crowns to repair damaged teeth. How to Protect Your Teeth Here are some other tips for keeping your teeth, and your children’s teeth, healthy: Brush at least twice each day with fluoride toothpaste. Floss between teeth every day. Avoid sugary drinks and snacks. See a dentist regularly. Dental sealants have been around for more than 20 years. They work best for children and teens, but the risk of cavities does not stop for adults. Sealants have stood the test of time. Ask your dentist if a sealant could help protect your teeth.