Dental sealants provide extra protection for the grooved and pitted areas by creating a smooth surface covering over the pits and fissures. Essentially, dental sealants are plastic coatings that we put on the biting or chewing surface of your permanent back teeth. This coating helps to protect those teeth from the formation of cavities. The chewing surfaces of your back teeth (called the molar and premolar teeth) have grooves or “fissures” that cause them to get cavities more often than other teeth. These fissures are often deep, hard to clean and sometimes narrower than one single bristle of your tooth brush. As a result, plaque tends to stick to these areas and can create a cavity-forming environment.
It is recommended that you consider sealants when the tooth first emerges completely from the gum line, since there is much less chance that the grooves of the teeth have cavities forming already. Early protection like this can help a child through growing years when he/she is most likely to experience tooth decay.
The process we use for placing dental sealant is straightforward and simple. First, the tooth surface is thoroughly cleaned with a paste and rotating brush by your dentist or hygienist.
Next, the tooth is washed with water and dried. Then, a safe acidic solution is applied to the fissured area of the tooth’s chewing surface for a several seconds and then rinsed. This etches the surface slightly to create a microscopically roughened surface on the enamel to increase adherence of the sealant. The dentist then paints a thin layer of liquid plastic material on the tooth and hardens it with a special light. Once the plastic is hardened, your tooth is protected.