Dental Sealants

- How much do they cost? / Are they covered by insurance? / Cost effectiveness.

Two teeth having dental sealants.

Here's an estimate of what you might pay to have a sealant placed on your, or your child's, tooth.

$35.00 - $60.00
Small city or town. - Metropolitan area. 

Note: The fee range shown is per tooth.

How did we come up with this estimate?

What's included in the price?

a) Sealing the tooth.

  • Different than with fillings, the cost of sealing a tooth is calculated on a per-tooth basis, no matter how many separate locations or sides are treated.

    For example, the two teeth in our picture above have each had a different number of individual areas sealed. Despite this difference however, the fee charged for each tooth would be the same.

  • Also different than with fillings, sealants typically cost the same whether they are placed on baby teeth or permanent ones.

b) Is maintenance included?

It's important for dental sealants to be evaluated regularly and repaired as needed.

For your own information, you should ask your dentist what their policy is in regard to fees charged for repairing or replacing lost or deficient sealants. For example, they may not charge for repairs made to one within a certain time period after its original placement.


Are sealants covered by dental insurance?

Many dental plans/insurance policies do cover tooth sealants.

It's easy to understand why. Since dental sealants are an effective means by which to reduce tooth decay, and thus fillings, these companies realize that if they do provide coverage it will save them money in the long run.

Possible policy limitations.

If you are covered by a plan that does provide coverage, there may be conditions and limitations involved.

  • The policy may only provide coverage for certain teeth. It's common for 1st and 2nd permanent molars to be covered. It's much less likely for a policy to provide benefits for primary (baby) teeth or permanent bicuspids (premolars).
  • Coverage for individual teeth may be limited to a specific age range. Age 16 years is a common cutoff point.
  • There may be limitations as to the frequency with which a tooth may be sealed.

    For example, a plan may only provide benefits for sealing a tooth once. Or, the limitation may be a time interval such as once every 3 or 5 years. This type of stipulation may present a problem if a sealant requires repair.

  • The policy's deductible may or may not be involved. Some plans will provide full benefits for this procedure even before the policy's deductible has been met. Others won't be as generous.

Sealant programs.

Some organizations/agencies operate tooth-sealant programs that your child may be eligible for. You'll simply have to check around and see what's available.

Where to get information.

Here are some suggestions as to where you might find information about the availability of such programs.

  • Your state's Medicade office.
  • Your child's school.
  • Your child's pediatrician.
  • Your county's health department.
  • Your state's Dental Board.
  • Your state's dental association.


Additional things to know.

a) An examination may be required.

If you don't have an established relationship with a dental office, it's unlikely that you'll find one that will offer to place tooth sealants without performing an examination for the patient first.

During this exam, the dentist can confirm that the teeth in question are proper candidates for this procedure. The exam may possibly need to include a set of bite-wing x-rays (the type of x-rays dentists use to check for tooth decay) but not always. (School-based programs routinely rely on just a clinical examination of the teeth being treated.)

b) Comparing prices.

Unlike with other dental procedures, comparing fees among different offices for this one should be straightforward enough.

  • As explained at the top of this page, dental sealant fees are typically charged on a flat per-tooth basis.
  • When inquiring, there is no comparable procedure that this one might be confused with.


How cost-effective is dental sealant placement?

This is a very difficult question to answer, and one that we don't really have an answer for. We will say:

  • On the surface, a comparison of the cost of a sealant vs. a filling (about $50 vs. $120 or so plus) is easy enough to make. But there is no guarantee that the tooth in question absolutely would have developed a cavity.
  • It's easier to demonstrate a cost benefit for teeth where incipient decay has already begun, or mouths where other teeth have already developed cavities. But in regard to overall oral health, why would you want to wait until either of these events had already happened?
  • One shouldn't overlook the fact that no dental restoration lasts forever. That means a filling needed because the tooth was not sealed will need to be replaced repeatedly over the child's lifetime.
  • You should take note of the fact that many dental insurance companies do provide coverage for this procedure. It's unlikely that they would do so unless they felt that it will save them money in the long run.
 

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