What are dental sealants?

Dental sealants are resin coatings placed on the chewing (occlusal) surface of the permanent back teeth — the molars and premolars — to help protect them from decay.

Ensuring that our children take good care of their teeth during the formative years is always a challenge. Overall oral health is a daily commitment, and that is learned behavior that we must teach our children. The years go by so fast, and we lose track of when our last dental cleaning took place.

Dental sealants are an effective way to ensure your child’s teeth are protected from decay over the long run, during these busy challenging years.

Why Are Dental Sealants Placed On Teeth?

The chewing surfaces of the molar and premolar teeth have grooves that make them vulnerable to decay. These fissures can be deep, difficult to clean, and are narrower than even a single bristle of a toothbrush. So, regular tooth brushing routinely misses these areas.

Plaque accumulates in the deep grooves. The acid from bacteria in the plaque attacks the enamel and cavities can develop. Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay and protects all the surfaces of the teeth. However, dental sealants provide extra protection specifically for the grooved and pitted areas by providing a smooth surface covering the fissured area.

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When are dental sealants placed?

Since dental sealants provide such strong prevention against tooth decay, they are typically used with children and teenagers once their molars come in. Molars erupt into the oral cavity at age 6-7 and age 11-12. Sealants can be placed any time after that.

Can dental sealants be placed on the teeth of adults?

Yes — while less common, dental sealants are sometimes placed in adults at risk for caries on deep grooves and fissures that do not already have fillings or dental sealants.

What do dental sealants look like?

Dental sealants can be clear, white or have a slight tint depending upon the dental sealant used.

How are dental sealants placed?

  1. The tooth surface is thoroughly cleaned with a pumice paste and rotating brush by a dental professional.
  2. An acidic solution is placed on the fissured area of the tooth’s chewing surface for several seconds before being rinsed off. This creates small, microscopic pores that enable the dental sealant to attach to the tooth.
  3. The tooth is dried again, the liquid dental sealant is placed on the tooth and light cured to a hardened surface hard plastic varnish coating, and you can chew on the tooth again.

How long does a dental sealant last?

Dental sealants have been used and proven to be effective since the 1970s. Many studies have shown that they are effective in helping prevent decay on chewing (occlusal) surfaces. Dental sealants can last many years.