Dental sealants are a treatment intended to prevent tooth decay which often begins on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. These surfaces have pits and grooves that are vulnerable to tooth decay, partly because food sticks in them and they are hard to clean areas. Dental sealants are materials placed in these pits and grooves to fill them in, creating a smooth surface that is easy to clean. Dental sealants are usually placed in children as soon as the adult molar teeth come through, but can also benefit many adults. Sealants protect only the chewing surfaces of teeth.
Sealants are easy to apply. It takes only a few minutes to seal each tooth. First, the tooth is cleaned and the chewing surfaces are prepared to help the sealant stick to the tooth. Then the sealant is painted onto the chewing surface where it bonds to the tooth and hardens. Sealants are generally clear or white and cannot be seen when you smile or talk.
Sealants usually last several years before they need to be replaced. Over time, sealants can become loose or worn. Then they may not protect the teeth as well. During regular dental visits, your dentist will check your sealants and reapply them if needed.