Sealants are a protective coating that seals the chewing (occlusal) surface of the tooth to prevent bacteria from causing decay. Pre-molars and molar teeth, located in the back of the mouth, naturally have pits and fissures on their chewing surface. Their shape and location make them hard to keep clean and cavity prone, especially during pre-teen and teenage years. A sealant helps protect against decay on these teeth by filling in the cracks and providing a protective shield that bacteria and food can’t penetrate.
Who are sealants for?
Sealants are best applied shortly after these molars come in, though it can be a good preventive measure for adults as well. For kids, their first molars will erupt around 6 years old, with the second molars following behind at around age 12. Once applied, a sealant can last 5 to 10 years with regular checks by your dentist.
How are sealants applied?
The process for applying sealants is quite simple:
- The teeth in question are thoroughly cleaned
- An acid solution is applied to roughen the surface, making it easier for the sealant to adhere
- Each tooth is then rinsed and thoroughly dried
- The sealant is then painted directly on to the tooth and allowed to harden, sometimes with the aid of a curing light
The appointment is quick, taking on average 30 minutes!