Preventive Dental Sealants
A sealant is a plastic material that is usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth — premolars and molars. This plastic resin bonds into the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the chewing surfaces of back teeth. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids.
Sealants help prevent tooth decay by creating a barrier between a tooth and decay-causing bacteria. Properly applied and maintained, sealants usually stop cavities from growing and can prevent the need for expensive fillings. Sealants are 100 percent effective if they are fully retained on the tooth. According to the Surgeon General’s 2000 report on oral health, sealants have been shown to reduce decay by more than 70 percent. The combination of sealants and fluoride has the potential to nearly eliminate tooth decay in school age children
A Tooth Sealant is an Added Layer of Protection
Sometimes brushing is not enough. Everyone has hard-to-reach spots in their mouth and brushing doesn’t always fully clean those difficult places. When that happens, you are at risk of tooth decay. Using sealants on your teeth gives you an extra line of defense against tooth decay.
Sealants are usually applied to children’s teeth as a preventative measure during the years of most likely tooth decay. However, adult’s teeth can also be sealed. It is more common to seal “permanent” teeth rather than “baby” teeth, but every person has unique needs. Your dentist will recommend sealants on a case by case basis.
Sealants generally last from 3 to 5 years. However, it is fairly common to see adults with sealants still intact from their childhood. A dental sealant only provides protection when it is fully intact so if your sealant comes off you must let your dentist know.