A sealant is a thin, plastic coating applied to the chewing surface of a permanent tooth, making it smoother and easier to clean. Sealants are used to prevent future decay, so for that reason, they are typically placed on the molars and pre-molars of young children. Most active decay begins in the deep grooves, pits, and fissures of teeth because those areas are difficult to keep clean, even with regular visits to the dentist. People who have teeth that are naturally more grooved and pitted may choose to have sealants placed with the hope that those teeth will not need fillings down the road. As with many dental procedures, sealants are not considered to be permanent and may have to be replaced over time due to normal wear or chipping; however, they are also very durable and will last many years.
What do sealants do?
Protect against future decay
What can I expect?
Sealants are typically applied by a dental hygienist, and the process is quick and easy, taking only a couple of minutes per tooth. Many times, sealants can be scheduled with your regular cleaning appointment. A tooth that is going to be sealed is thoroughly cleaned and wrapped with cotton to keep the area dry. A special solution is applied to the biting surface of the tooth, which will help the sealant material bond to the enamel. The tooth is then rinsed with water and dried. Your hygienist will carefully paint the sealant material onto your tooth thick enough to cover the deep grooves and pits. A special curing light will then be used to harden the sealant material. You will be given care instructions at the conclusion of your treatment. Good oral hygiene practices, healthy eating habits, and regular dental visits will extend the life of your new sealants.