A sealant is a thin, resin coating applied to the back teeth to prevent cavity formation (decay). The chewing surfaces of molars and premolars contain deep grooves called pits and fissures. Pits and fissures harbor food and are hard to clean even with brushing, making them susceptible to cavities. In fact, more than 75% of cavities begins in these grooves. Sealants protect teeth by seamlessly filling in these grooves, creating smooth, easy to clean surfaces. Sealants are effective at protecting teeth from cavities for many years but need to be checked for wear and chipping at regular dental visits.
Who Can Benefit from Sealants?
Children and teenagers – The first back tooth that erupts is the first molar (also known as the six-year molar). Sealants should be placed on these teeth, as well as all back teeth to follow. Eruption typically occurs in children ages 6 to 18.
Adults – Teeth without decay or existing dental work can benefit from sealants, even in adults. Teeth with deep grooves are especially to benefit, as deeper grooves are harder to clean.
How are Sealants Placed?
Sealants are easily applied by your dentist, dental hygienist, or dental assistant. The process is comfortable, only takes a couple of minutes per tooth, and does not require any anesthetic (numbing). The teeth to be sealed are thoroughly cleaned and the area is kept dry with cotton. A special solution is applied to the enamel surface to help the sealant bond to the teeth. The teeth are then rinsed and dried. The sealant material, which matches the tooth color, is carefully painted onto the enamel surface to fill in the deep grooves. A special curing light is then used to harden the sealant material. Finally, the sealant is smoothed and polished.
*Please note the people depicted in the photographs are models and not real patients.*