What are Sealants?
Sealants are thin, plastic coatings painted on the chewing surfaces of the back of the teeth. Having sealants put on is simple and painless. Sealants are painted on as a liquid and quickly harden to form a shield over the tooth.
Why get Sealants?
The most important reason for getting sealants is to avoid tooth decay. Fluoride in toothpaste and in drinking water protects the smooth surfaces of teeth but back teeth need extra protection. Sealants cover the chewing surfaces of the back teeth and keep out germs and food.
Having sealants put on teeth will help in the long run by avoiding fillings, crowns or caps used to fix decayed teeth.
Who Should get Sealants?
Children should get sealants on their permanent molars as soon as they come in – before decay attacks the teeth. The first permanent molars – called “6 year molars” – come in between the ages of 5 and 7. The second permanent molars – called “12 year molars” – come in between the ages of 11 and 14. Other teeth with pits and grooves also might need to be sealed. Teenagers and young adults who are prone to decay may also need sealants.
Should Sealants be Put on Baby Teeth?
Your dentist might think it is a good idea, especially if your child’s baby teeth have deep pits and grooves. Baby teeth save space for permanent teeth. It is important to keep baby teeth healthy so they don’t fall out early.
How Long do Sealants Last?
Sealants can last up to 10 years but need to be checked at regular dental check-ups to make sure they are not chipped or worn away. Sealants can be repaired by adding more sealant material.
What if a Small Cavity is Accidentally Covered by a Sealant?
The decay will not spread because it is sealed off from its food and germ supply.