Sealants are thin plastic coatings applied in the dental office on the chewing surfaces of back teeth, which are prime spots for cavities. Sealants act as a barrier to prevent bacteria and food from collecting and sitting on the grooves and pits of teeth.
Sealants are best suited for permanent first molars which erupt around the age of 6 and second molars that erupt around the age of 12. It is important to have the sealant applied as soon as the tooth has fully come in. They are also indicated on the pre-molars if there are deep pits and fissures present.
Before the sealant material is applied, the tooth surface is prepared by cleaning with a dental solution that helps the sealant stick to the tooth by penetrating the enamel.
Sealants may last for several years once applied, but should always be examined at the child's regular checkup. Even if the sealant becomes lost, the material that has penetrated the enamel will still provide protection. Sealants are easily replaced if lost.
Sealants are nearly 100% effective in preventing decay in the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. Fluoride helps fight decay on the smooth surfaces of the teeth.