A sealant is a plastic film-like material that is applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. The plastic material bonds to the pits and fissures of the teeth and acts as a barrier to protect the teeth from decay.
How are sealants applied to teeth?
A dentist or hygienist must apply sealants, but the procedure is simple and fast with very little, if any, discomfort. First, to receive the sealants, the teeth will be cleaned and thoroughly rinsed. An acid solution or gel will then be applied to the tooth to help the sealant bond with the tooth. The sealant material will then be painted onto the teeth, much like nail polish on a fingernail, and allowed to dry and form a bond on the chewing surface of the tooth. Your dentist may use a special curing light to help the sealant material harden. It will take a dental professional only a few minutes to seal each tooth. Once applied sealants can last from five to ten years.
How effective are sealants?
Because sealants act as a physical barrier to decay-causing bacteria, sealants are nearly 100% effective in protecting teeth from cavities in pits and fissures, if applied properly. A systematic review of 16 studies found that permanent molar teeth with sealants had almost 80% less tooth decay on the biting surfaces than teeth that were not sealed. Dental sealants are also cost effective. Having sealants applied is less than the cost of having a cavity filled. Prevention is the key to keeping your mouth and teeth healthy. Be sure to brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste containing at least 145oppm of fluoride, clean between your teeth daily with floss, eat healthy foods and visit your dentist regularly. Ask your dentist if you or your children would benefit from the added protection of dental sealants.