Dental Sealant And Your Child's Teeth: When Replacement Treatment Is Needed

Has your pediatric dentist ever applied a dental sealant to your child's teeth? The process is absolutely painless and rather quick, so it would have been done during a regular checkup. The sealant is a layer of durable, transparent dental resin applied to teeth (primarily their biting surfaces) intended to protect the tooth's structure from corrosive elements that cause decay. How long will this protection last? How will you know when it's time to replace this sealant?


A properly applied dental sealant can last for up to 9 years. Depending on your child's age when their sealant was applied, the resin coating may outlast the tooth. Your child's primary (baby) teeth may detach with the sealant still in place. That being said, there are instances when sealant may need to be reapplied.

During a Checkup

The state of your child's dental sealant will be assessed as part of their regular checkups. If it's noticed that the sealant has started to flake, leading to exposed patches of tooth enamel on your child's teeth, the sealant can quickly and easily be replaced. You may have wondered, and yes—small amounts of the sealant material will have been ingested as it flakes. This isn't a concern, since the amount is tiny, and the material won't be harmful to your child's digestive tract and stomach.

Tooth Sensitivity

Your pediatric dentist will probably be the one to notice when it's time for your child's sealant to be replaced. But your child may notice too. The appearance of a cavity can suggest that the sealant has worn off, making the tooth more vulnerable to decay—which unfortunately has begun to occur. A cavity can often be felt before it's seen, so any recurring toothache or sensitivity in a tooth treated with a sealant should be reported to your dentist. Your child may also be able to physically feel any changes to the sealant on their own teeth.

Irregular Surfaces

It's not always the case, but patchy sealant can create an irregular surface on your child's teeth. They may be able to feel the edges of the sealant under their tongue. Schedule a dental appointment if this is the case. Your family dentist will want to know the cause of this patchy sealant. Your child may be brushing their teeth too hard or may be inadvertently grinding their teeth. The latter suggests that orthodontic treatment could be needed, and your child will be referred if necessary.

Dental sealant should last almost as long as the teeth it's on, but there are a few circumstances where it will need to be reapplied. Contact a pediatric dentist to learn more.