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.
How does a sealant help prevent decay?
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.
Thorough brushing and flossing help remove food particles
and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth. But toothbrush
bristles cannot reach all the way into the depressions and
grooves to extract food and plaque. Sealants protect these
vulnerable areas by "sealing out" plaque and food.
Is sealant application a complicated procedure?
Sealants are easy for your dentist to apply, and it takes
only a few minutes to seal each tooth. The teeth that will
be sealed are cleaned. Then the chewing surfaces are
roughened with an acid solution to help the sealant adhere
to the tooth. The sealant is then 'painted' onto the tooth
enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens.
Sometimes a special curing light is used to help the sealant
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 will check the condition of the
sealants and reapply them when necessary.