4.1 Sealant Material Selection

Sealant Materials

images of various sealant productsThere are a number of commercially available dental sealant materials, each with different attributes. Sealant materials that work well in private practice may not be the most appropriate for school-based dental sealant programs. Programs must select the sealant material that works best in the conditions under which they operate.

Factors that may influence dental sealant material selection include:

  • Whether a dentist is available to adjust occlusion if state laws do not permit non-dentists to do so (e.g., in Maryland). In school-based dental sealant programs, unlike in private practices, a dentist is not available to adjust occlusion; therefore, resin-based sealant materials that contain no fillers are preferable, since sealant materials with high percentages of fillers require occlusal adjustment.
  • Whether a program is portable or fixed. School-based dental sealant programs move from school to school. Frequent packing, transport, and unpacking places equipment, such as curing lights, at risk for damage.
  • Whether continuity of care is available. School-based dental sealant programs are not dental homes and do not provide continuity of care; rather, they refer students to dental homes where continuity of care is provided. Sealants placed at schools should be easily visible to dentists who may subsequently examine a child. Therefore, colored or opaque sealant materials that do not match tooth color are preferred over clear or transparent sealant materials.
  • Temperature-control capabilities (programs may work in old school buildings or other school settings with poor temperature control). Temperature can affect a sealant material’s setting time. Using a light-cured sealant material provides the greatest control over setting time.