Sealants are a very thin layer of plastic like material (very similar to a composite or tooth colored filling) that are placed on the chewing surfaces of teeth. Usually applied on the back teeth (i.e. premolars and molars), it helps prevent bacteria and food debris from collecting inside the tooth’s tiny grooves.
Sealants on children and kids the chewing surfaces on the tooth’s enamel typically have detailed dental anatomy and shapes, resulting in extremely tiny and thin pits (holes) and grooves. Flossing and brushing help remove food debris and plaque from the smooth enamel areas of the teeth. However the tooth’s pits and grooves are usually too thin for a toothbrush’s bristles to sufficiently clean. As a result, these areas may be prone to cavities (tooth decay).
By “sealing” the pits and grooves it forms a protective barrier, blocking bacteria and food debris from seeping to the tooth’s tiny grooves, thus helps to prevent cavities. With proper oral hygiene dental sealants are a easy and cost effective preventive method to control tooth decay.
Placing sealants on children’s molars are an effective preventive method to help prevent cavities. With sealants on the kid’s teeth, the grooves are protected and covered.
Typically no drilling is involved. Your dentist, dental assistant, or hygienist first makes sure the tooth is cleaned by applying a special cleansing solution; the area is then dried and the sealant material flowed into the tooth’s grooves and pits. Finally a high intensity UV light cures / “hardens” the sealant to ensure the plastic material is bonded inside the tooth.
Sealants are not permanent and will gradually wear off over time as your child grows. But the procedure is quick, easy, and most cases covered by dental insurance. As part of a daily routine of brushing twice a day, flossing, limiting sugary snacks as part of a healthy diet, and regular dental checkups and cleanings, it’s a great preventive method to help control cavities.
Be sure to talk to your dentist to see if sealants are appropriate for you or your child.