A sealant is a plastic material that is applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (premolars and molars), where decay occurs most often. This sealant acts as a barrier, protecting the decay prone areas of the tooth from plaque and acid.
Thorough brushing and flossing help remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth. But toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the deep depressions and grooves to extract food and plaque. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas by “sealing out” plaque and food.
How Sealants are Applied
Each tooth only takes a few minutes to seal. First, the teeth that will be sealed will be cleaned. The chewing surfaces are then etched (roughened) with a weak acidic solution to help the sealant adhere to the teeth. Finally, the sealant is placed onto the tooth enamel and hardened. Sealants need a special curing light to help them harden.
How Sealants Save Money
When properly applied and maintained they can successfully protect the chewing surfaces of the tooth from decay. A total prevention program includes brushing twice a day, cleaning between teeth daily with floss or interdental cleaner, regular dental visits, and limiting the number of between-meal snacks. Ask your dentist how to obtain the right level of fluoride. If these measures are followed and sealants are used well, the risk of decay can be reduced or may even be eliminated.