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It's not easy for kids to clean all the nooks and crannies in their teeth. That’s where dental sealants, thin coatings painted on the chewing surfaces of molars, come in. Though sealants reduce the risk of tooth decay by about 80 percent in molars (where most cavities occur), only about 40 percent of kids ages 6 to 11 get them. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), schoolage​ kids without sealants have almost three times more cavities than those with them.

If he doesn’t have sealants yet, talk to his dentist. First molars break through around age 6 and second molars by age 12, so it’s best to get them earlier. Plus, they’re meant to last years. The process is simple: The dentist cleans and dries the tooth, applies a gel to help the sealant bond, then hardens the product with a special blue light. Call your insurance company to find out if sealants are covered.