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What are Dental Sealants? Do I Need Them?

Brushing and flossing daily is the best way to prevent tooth decay. However, small crevices and ridges may make it difficult to thoroughly clean the teeth, leaving missed areas. This is where dental sealants can do their job.

What are Dental Sealants?

Dental sealants are a non-permanent material that covers the biting surface of teeth. According to the CDC, “Sealants are thin coatings painted on teeth to protect them from cavities. They flow into the deep grooves of teeth and harden immediately.”

Sealants are most effective when applied to newly erupted permanent teeth, usually molars, in children 6-12 years of age. Your dentist, however, may determine that sealants are right for you even as an adult.

Why Dental Sealants?

Dental sealants are a great way to prevent tooth decay, as Mouth Healthy compares them to a raincoat, “Think of them as raincoats for your teeth. When the cavity-causing bacteria that live in everyone’s mouth meet leftover food particles, they produce acids that can create holes in teeth. These holes are cavities. After sealant has been applied it keeps those bits of food out and stops bacteria and acid from settling on your teeth—just like a raincoat keeps you clean and dry during a storm.”

How Are They Applied?

Applying sealants is a quick pain-free process that can be done by your dentist or dental hygienist. Mouth Healthy explains the process, “Your dentist will clean and dry your tooth before placing an acidic gel on your teeth. This gel roughs up your tooth surface so a strong bond will form between your tooth and the sealant. After a few seconds, your dentist will rinse off the gel and dry your tooth once again before applying the sealant onto the grooves of your tooth. Your dentist will then use a special blue light to harden the sealant.”

Additional Questions About Sealants

Still have questions about sealants? Feel free to ask at your next visit if sealants are right for you or someone else.