A sealant is plastic coating that is thinly applied to the molar chewing surface and to premolars where there are pits, fissures or other deep grooves. Greater than 75 percent of decay starts in these grooves, and teeth with these grooves are hard to clean. A sealant provides protection by closing off the grooves, making a smooth and easy-to-clean surface. Sealants can provide effective protection for many years, but the teeth must be checked for chipping and wear regularly during dental visits. 

When to apply sealants?

Teens and children: Apply as soon as six-year molars, the first of the permanent back teeth, are through and anytime between ages 6 and 16. 

Adults: Apply to tooth surfaces with no decay that are deeply grooved or have depressions.

Baby teeth: Apply to cavity-prone children’s teeth with depressions or deep grooves. 

What is involved in having sealants applied?

Sealants can be applied easily by your hygienist or dentist, and the process requires only a minute or two per tooth. Teeth to be sealed are cleaned thoroughly and cotton is placed around them to keep the area dry. A solution is applied to the enamel that allows the sealant to bond with the tooth. The mouth is then rinsed and dried. The sealant is painted carefully onto the enamel, making sure it covers depressions and deep grooves. Depending on what type of sealant is used, the material may harden on its own or a special light may be used. Good home care, a good diet and regular dental checkups are necessary to maintain the life of the sealant.