Here’s an estimate of what you might pay to have a sealant placed on your, or your child’s, tooth.
$37.00 – $62.00
Small city or town. ◄…► Metropolitan area.
How we calculate our cost estimates for procedures.
Note: The fee range shown is per tooth.
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.
Two teeth with dental sealants.
b) Is maintenance included? / Replacements.
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 date.
Replacement might also be cost-free if required within a certain initial time frame. (Also, see the “frequency” section below.)
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.
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 Medicaid office. (Medicaid programs frequently cover this procedure.)
- Your child’s school.
- Your child’s pediatrician.
- Your county’s health department.
- Your state’s Dental Board.
- Your state’s dental association.
FYI –Many sealant programs are school-based, so it seems likely that your child’s school nurse would be a good place to start your inquiry. Your county’s health department should also be knowledgeable about what’s available in your area.
These programs frequently focus on serving populations that are less likely to receive dental care from private sources. They often target the same students that are eligible for school lunch programs.
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 entirely have an answer for, at least in precise terms. But we can 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. However, 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 (early, minor) decay has already begun (placing a sealant is cheaper). But why would you want to allow a tooth to become compromised like this when placing a sealant beforehand could have prevented it?
- 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.
Information from research.
Here’s an interesting point from a study that sheds some light on the cost-effectiveness of placing dental sealants.
Research by Bravo determined that having sealants placed on a child’s teeth resulted in a lower decay rate on other tooth surfaces too (like in between teeth), on the order of 5 fold. (It might be postulated that after they have been placed, the kinds of bacteria that cause cavities simply have a reduced foothold in the mouth, and thus are less able to seed additional colonies.
Page references sources:
Bravo M, et al. Sealant and fluoride varnish in caries: A randomized trial.
Because the fee estimates we show above have been developed by different means, you may also find the survey of dental fees published by DentistryIQ an interesting independent source: DentistryIQ – 2017 dental fee analysis by region and CDT procedure code
All reference sources for topic Dental Sealants.
This section contains comments submitted in previous years. Many have been edited so to limit their scope to subjects discussed on this page.
Replacement was an issue with my child. She had sealants placed on her 4 six year molars and at the next check up it was discovered that two had come off.
Our long-time family dentist stated that teeth that have just come through the gums are still at a level where it is hard to keep them dry during the sealing. She replaced them for free, in just a couple of minutes. Very commendable.
That’s right. A dentist is usually eager to protect newly erupted teeth but their current position in jaw (how far through the gums they have yet penetrated) can pose challenges, especially in keeping them dry during the procedure.
It sounds like you have a good dentist. They did their best at the time. And when in hindsight it seems the procedure was attempted too soon, they stepped up and made good on their services. That is commendable.
Are sealants really necessary?
Sealants are an added expense. Are they really necessary? Are they worth the money?
No, they’re not a “mandatory” procedure like filling placement is. But keep in mind, in cases where a cavity does form because the tooth was not sealed, that tooth will then require a lifetime of repeated repair (no filling lasts forever).
Only considering expenses, that poses a significant cost. The fact that so many dental insurance policies do cover sealants hints at the cost-savings those companies associated with their placement.
So if your dentist finds good reason to place them, then it is usually money well spent, and quite the bargain.