A sealant is a strong, protective coating that is applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (molars). Molars have many grooves and crevices making it easy for bacteria to grow and cavities to form. Food can get stuck in these crevices and some crevices can be so deep that the bristles of a toothbrush can’t reach into them. Sealants cover the grooves and crevices so that food cannot get into them.
Applying sealants is a quick, painless procedure that can be done during a routine dental visit. The dentist cleans the area to remove any food or debris in and around the teeth, then makes sure the teeth are completely dry so that the sealant can stick. The sealant is applied in liquid form and flows over and into the grooves and crevices of the molars. The sealant usually hardens within 20-60 seconds or it is set with a special light. Studies show that sealants can last a long time, often as long as 15 years. But they are plastic and don’t last forever.
Remember, sealants work great, but they cannot keep your child’s teeth cavity-free without some help. It is important to continue to practice good oral hygiene by brushing twice a day, flossing at least once a day and visiting the dentist regularly.
Generally sealants are applied to children’s teeth to prevent cavities. However, sealants are sometimes used in adults who are at increased risk for developing cavities. Your dentist will discuss whether this procedure is appropriate for your situation.