First permanent molars erupt into the mouth at about age 6 years. Placing sealants on these teeth shortly after they erupt protects them from developing caries in areas of the teeth where food and bacteria collect. If sealants were applied routinely to susceptible tooth surfaces in conjunction with the appropriate use of fluoride, most tooth decay in children could be prevented.

Second permanent molars erupt into the mouth at about age 12 years. Pit and fissure surfaces of these teeth are as susceptible to dental caries as the first permanent molars of younger children. Therefore, young teens need to receive dental sealants shortly after the eruption of their second permanent molars.