Sealants are generally used to help prevent tooth decay on the biting surfaces of back teeth (molars). The natural grooves of these teeth can trap food that can resist casual brushing and rinsing. If left in place, the trapped food allows bacteria to multiply, eventually causing tooth decay and requiring costly attention.
Sealants are painted directly onto the tooth where they seal the natural grooves to help prevent tooth decay. While sealants are durable, they are not permanent. They can last up to 5 years of normal wear before needing replacement.
Sealants offer a cost-effective, preventative step to reduce the chances of tooth decay on the chewing surfaces of molars. However, they do not replace the need for regular brushing and flossing.
The chewing surfaces of your molars are particularly susceptible to the development of cavities. This is because these areas contain deep crevices that are difficult to reach with your toothbrush. Without proper cleaning, bacteria and debris are allowed to collect and start destroying your teeth.
Sealants are a simple procedure designed to prevent buildup from accumulating in the crevices of your molars. Like fluoride, it is quick and completely painless. After cleaning your teeth, an acid etch is applied to the target teeth. The acid helps to create a rough texture that will help the sealants, which are made up of plastic and other materials, to bond more effectively to the teeth when applied. After the acid is washed off and the teeth dried again, the sealant material is painted on. A specialized light is used to dry the sealants, and they start protecting your teeth right away. Along with helping to prevent the buildup of bacteria and debris in the crevices of your molars, sealants also help to make your molars significantly easier to clean.