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Sealants: The Added Link in Prevention

Course Number: 673


Dental caries, a multifactorial disease continues to be prevalent among children and adolescents, particularly in underserved populations. According to the data collected from the 2015-2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the prevalence of total dental caries (untreated and treated) in primary or permanent teeth among youth aged 2–19 years was 45.8% with the prevalence increasing with age. Disparities existed with socioeconomic factors such as race and economic status.1 Pit and fissure sealants have been used for many years as an effective and integral component of a preventive dentistry care plan. Despite early controversy regarding effectiveness, safety and retention rates, pit and fissure sealants have been used to prevent occlusal caries in children and adolescents. However, this effective intervention has been underused, with socioeconomic factors being the main barriers.2 Two main types of sealants, resin based and glass ionomer, provide clinicians with several variations and options for application. Public health and school-based sealant programs have been effective in reaching underserved populations. On-going research continues to support the use of pit and fissure sealants compared to no sealants as an effective means of preventing dental caries in children and adolescents.3