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Dental sealants are a thin protective coating that fill in the grooves on the top of a tooth, protecting the teeth against decay-causing bacteria.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does a sealant help prevent decay?
  • Is sealant application a complicated procedure?
  • Sealants are just for kids, right?
  • How does a sealant help prevent decay?

A sealant is a plastic material that is usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. This plastic resin bonds into the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the chewing surfaces of back teeth. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids.

Thorough brushing and flossing help remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth. But toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the depressions and grooves to extract food and plaque. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas by “sealing out” plaque and food.

Sealants are easy for your dentist to apply, and it takes only a few minutes to seal each tooth. The teeth that will be sealed are cleaned. Then the chewing surfaces are roughened with an acid solution to help the sealant adhere to the tooth. The sealant is then ‘painted’ onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and will harden when a special curing light is shined on it.

As long as the sealant remains intact, the tooth surface will be protected from decay. Sealants hold up well under the force of normal chewing and usually last several years before needing to be reapplied. During your regular dental visits, your dentist will check to make sure the sealants are still protecting otherwise they will let you know they need to be reapplied.

The likelihood of developing pit and fissure decay begins early in life, so children and teenagers are the most obvious candidates. Adults , however, can benefit from sealants as well.

Key ingredients in preventing tooth decay and maintaining a healthy mouth are twice-daily brushing; cleaning between the teeth daily with floss or some other appliance they may suggest; eating a balanced diet and limiting snacks; and visiting your dentist regularly