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What Are Dental Sealants?

Dental sealants represent one of the greatest advances of modern dentistry. Applied during a simple procedure, dental sealants act as a barrier, protecting the teeth against decay-causing bacteria.

The sealants are usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (premolars and molars) where decay occurs most often. In fact, nearly 84% of all cavities occur in these teeth!  These back teeth are prone to cavities because they contain small pits and grooves. Although thorough brushing and flossing help remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth, the toothbrush bristles cannot always reach all the way into these pits and grooves to extract food and plaque. Bacteria builds up in these pits and groves, feeds on food particles, and creates acid as a by-product of this feeding. It is this bacterially created acid which destroys tooth enamel, causing cavities.

Dental sealants are clear protective coatings which, once applied, cover the tooth surface preventing bacteria and food particles from settling into the pits and grooves. Sealants are easy for your dental professional to apply, and it takes only a few minutes to seal each tooth. The procedure is quick and painless and does not require drilling or removing tooth structure.  After the tooth is cleaned, a special gel is placed on the chewing surface for a few seconds. The tooth is then washed off and dried. Then, the sealant is painted on the tooth. The dental professional will shine a light on the tooth to help harden the sealant. It takes about a minute for the sealant to form a protective shield.

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 a reapplication is needed. During your regular dental visits, your dentist or dental hygienist will check the condition of the sealants and reapply them when necessary.

Sealants are one part of a child's total preventive dental care. A complete preventive dental program also includes fluoride, twice-daily brushing, wise food choices, and regular dental care.


Sealant  Sealant