A dental sealant is an acrylic-like material that is usually applied to the surface of a tooth to provide protection on enamel from bacteria that cause decay.This is a safe and painless form of treatment to stop tooth decay. Fissure sealant procedures are quick and straightforward, usually only taking a few minutes per tooth. Fissure sealants are different from fillings as they are preventative and are not used to treat existing decay.
Thorough brushing and flossing help remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of the teeth. However, toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the depressions and grooves to extract food and plaque. The sealant acts as a barrier between the teeth and any food or beverage it comes in contact with. Sugars and carbohydrates fuel tooth decay, so the sealant helps in preventing sugary foods from getting stuck in the grooves of the teeth.
The process to apply sealants is quick and easy:
- First, your dentist or hygienist will prepare the teeth for sealants by thoroughly cleaning them.
- The sealant material is then painted directly onto the tooth enamel of each premolar and molar.
- The sealant bonds and hardens to the tooth's surface with the help of a special curating light.
Children as young as 6 years of age are great candidates for dental sealants, as it is beneficial to have them applied to permanent molars as soon as they grow in.