Plastic coatings applied to the surfaces of teeth aren’t just effective; they’re also cost-effective, according to Austin Frakt @afrakt in TheUpshot today.

Incorporating research from The Cochrane Collaboration, the American Dental AssociationThe Pew Charitable Trusts and the Food and Drug Administration,The New York Times health economist discusses tackles the topic of dental sealants:

“In 2013, The Cochrane Collaboration published a systematic review of the evidence on sealants. It assessed the results of 34 studies involving 6,529 children and adolescents. Some studies compared one sealant material to another, but 12 of the studies, with 2,575 total participants, compared outcomes of sealants versus no sealants. From these, the review concluded that sealants are effective in reducing cavities for at least four years after each application.

For example, one randomized trial followed children with and without sealants for nine years. At the beginning of the study, study participants were between 6 and 8. By the time they were in their mid- to late teens, 77 percent of their teeth without sealant treatment had cavities, compared with 27 percent with sealants. Another randomized trial studied 8-to-10-year-olds over two years. It found that cavity rates were more than twice as high for those without sealants than for those with.”

Find out how some state requirements and a lack of school programs reduce access to sealants:

Frakt, Austin (2016, September 19). Defending Your Children’s Teeth (and Dentists): The Value of Sealants). The New York Times.