While thorough brushing and flossing remove most food particles and bacteria from easy to reach tooth surfaces, they do not reach the deep grooves on chewing surfaces of teeth. The majority of dental decay begins in these deep grooves (called pits and fissures). Toothbrush bristles are too big to fit into and properly clean most of these areas. This is where dental sealants play an important role.
A dental sealant is a thin plastic coating that covers the deep grooves and pits of teeth, primarily on the molar teeth. Sealant material forms a protective, smooth barrier which prevent bacteria from penetrating and helps to keep these areas free of decay.
Who may need sealants?
Children and teenagers - As soon as the first molars appear (usually around age 6) or at any time throughout the cavity prone years of 6-16.
Adults - Tooth surfaces without decay that have deep grooves or depressions that are difficult to clean.
Sealants are easily applied by your dentist or dental hygienist through a quick and painless process. No anesthesia is needed. After the chewing surfaces are roughened with an acid solution that helps the sealant bond to the tooth, the sealant material is “painted” onto the tooth surface. A special light helps to bond and harden the sealant to the tooth.
Combined with excellent home care, a proper diet, and regular dental visits, sealants are very effective in helping prevent tooth decay.