Sealants protect the grooved and pitted surfaces of the teeth, especially the chewing surfaces of back teeth where most cavities in children are found. Made of clear or shaded plastic, sealants are applied to the teeth to help keep them cavity-free. Sealants “seal out” food and plaque, and thus reduce the risks of decay.
Q. How do sealants work?
A. In many cases, it is nearly impossible for children to clean the tiny grooves on their teeth. After a sealant is applied, the surface of the tooth is somewhat flatter and smoother. There are no longer any places on the chewing part of the tooth that the bristles of a toothbrush can’t reach and clean. Since plaque can be removed more easily and effectively, there is much less chance that decay will start.
Q. What is the life expectancy of tooth sealants?
A. The longevity of sealants can vary. Sealants that have remained in place for three to five years would be considered successful, but sealants can last much longer. It is not uncommon to see sealants placed during childhood still intact on the teeth of adults. Our office will check your child’s sealants during routine dental visits and will recommend repair or reapplication when necessary. Eating sticky candies will shorten the life span of sealants.
Q. What is the procedure for placing sealants?
A. The procedure usually takes just one visit and is a very straightforward process. The tooth is cleaned, conditioned and dried. The sealant is then applied to the grooves of the tooth and hardened with a special blue light. The child can resume all normal activities directly after the appointment.
Q. Do sealants lessen the need for brushing and flossing?
A. Definitely not! Sealants are only one part of the defensive plan against tooth decay, so it is just as important for children to brush and floss their teeth after sealants are applied.