A barrier to providing sealants is concern about inadvertently sealing over caries. This meta-analysis examined the effectiveness of sealants in preventing caries progression. We searched electronic databases for comparative studies examining caries progression in sealed permanent teeth. We used a random-effects model to estimate percentage reduction in the probability of caries progression in sealed vs. unsealed carious teeth. Six studies, including 4 randomized-controlled trials (RCT) judged to be of fair quality, were included in the analysis (384 persons, 840 teeth, and 1090 surfaces). The median annual percentage of non-cavitated lesions progressing was 2.6% for sealed and 12.6% for unsealed carious teeth. The summary prevented fraction for RCT was 71.3% (95%CI: 52.8%-82.5, no heterogeneity) up to 5 years after placement. Despite variation among studies in design and conduct, sensitivity analysis found the effect to be consistent in size and direction. Sealing non-cavitated caries in permanent teeth is effective in reducing caries progression.
- Pit and fissure sealants
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