What are Sealants?
Sealants are very thin coatings applied to the biting surfaces of teeth, which often feature predominate grooves. The vast majority of decay originates in these grooves, called pits and fissures, but they can be difficult to keep clean. The thin plastic, seals the grooves, leaving a smooth and easily cleanable surface.
Sealants last for years, but do require checking for wear and chipping. Your dentist will evaluate them during the course of a regular visit. The most common recipients of sealants are children and teens between 6 and 16 years, as they are more prone to cavities. Many dental professionals advise sealants as soon as the six-year molars, the first permanent back teeth, appear.
Some adults also get sealants on decay-free teeth with deep grooves, as an added layer of protection. In some cases, dentists will seal baby teeth for the same reason, or if the child is prone to cavities.
How are Teeth Sealed?
Sealants are easy to apply and take only a few minutes per tooth. First, your dentist or dental hygienist will clean and dry the specific teeth, surrounding them with cotton to keep them dry. A bonding solution is applied to the surface, followed by another rinse and drying of the tooth. The hygienist or dentist will then paint the sealant material onto the enamel; it either hardens automatically, or a curing light helps it set.
Together with proper care, a balanced diet, and routine visits to the dentist, your sealants will help you avoid the problems that come with tooth decay.