Sealants are a plastic resin that bonds and hardens in the deep grooves on chewing surfaces of permanent molars and premolars. When bacteria in the mouth meet leftover food particles, they produce acids that can eat away at tooth enamel, causing holes (cavities). Sealants stop food from getting trapped in these grooves, protecting teeth and preventing decay.
We typically recommend that kids get sealants on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as those teeth come in, usually around age 6 or 12. But adults who have healthy gums and no fillings or decay in their molars can also benefit from the protection of sealants. Adults with poor oral hygiene habits or a history of cavities in their back teeth can also benefit from sealants on a case-by-case basis.
There is no preparation required for dental sealants, which we can place during a regular office visit. First, we will clean and dry the surface of each tooth to prevent bacteria from entering any cracks or crevices. Then we will paint on a thin layer of the acid etching solution to roughen up the chewing surfaces and help the sealant bond to the teeth. After the tooth is rinsed off and dried again, we will paint on the sealant and shine a curing light to harden it.
Sealants can last for several years, but we will monitor them at each cleaning appointment and reapply them as needed. A dental sealant only provides protection when it is fully intact, so if your child’s sealants come off, let us know and schedule an appointment for your child to get them replaced.