Dental sealants

A dental sealant is a clear or white, liquid-plastic material put on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. The sealant bonds into the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of teeth and protects them from tooth decay and cavities.

Sealants are very effective at preventing tooth decay. Studies show that children who get sealants in school programs have a 60% decrease in tooth decay.1 Although children and teens usually use sealants, adults can use them, too.

To put in a sealant, your dentist or dental hygienist will place a cotton roll around your teeth to absorb saliva and prevent moisture from getting on the teeth. A sheet of rubber (rubber dam) may be used to isolate the teeth. The dentist, dental hygienist, or a dental assistant will first apply the solution that will glue the sealant to the tooth. After about a minute, he or she will rinse off the excess glue, dry your teeth, and put on the sealant.

One type of sealant hardens very quickly through the use of a bright light. The other hardens more gradually.

Sealants may wear down over a period of years. Your dentist should check them regularly and reapply them if needed.

Citations

  1. Truman BI, et al. (2002). Reviews of evidence on interventions to prevent dental caries, oral and pharyngeal cancers, and sport-related craniofacial injuries. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 23(1, Suppl): S21–S54.

Last Updated: July 17, 2009

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