Dental Sealants, also called pit and fissure sealants, are made of a thin plastic material that is applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth — premolars and molars.
Dental sealants along with daily oral hygiene can keep your children's teeth free of tooth decay.
Why to use Dental Sealants
The chewing surfaces of molars and premolars are not smooth. They have pits and fissures where the toothbrush bristles can't reach. So dental plaque is free to grow causing tooth decay (even with good dental hygiene). Most of the cavities on a kid's freshly erupted permanent teeth occur in these areas.
Dental caries research have revealed that almost 84% of caries in ages 5-17 involved these pit and fissure areas.
How do Dental Sealants work
A dental sealant is a clear or white, liquid-plastic material applied on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. This plastic resin bonds into the depressions and grooves (pit and fissure) of the teeth surfaces making them smooth and much easier to clean by brushing.
The role of dental sealants is to act as a barrier, protecting the enamel from the acids produced by the bacteria of dental plaque. The use of pit and fissure sealants has been shown to reduce tooth decay and cavities by more than 50% (and over 70% along with proper dental hygiene).
Dental sealants are effective in preventing pit and fissure caries and complement fluoride's role which is more effective for smooth surface caries.
Application of pit and fissure sealants
Dental sealants are easy for the pediatric dentist to apply, and painless for the child. After the tooth is cleaned and dried, the chewing surfaces are roughened with an etching solution or gel to help the sealant adhere to the tooth. After a few minutes the tooth is cleaned and dried again. Then the dental sealant is 'painted' on the tooth enamel and hardened with a special 'curing' light. It takes only a few minutes to seal each tooth. Dental sealants can last as long as five years and often longer.
Pit and fissure dental sealants should be applied soon after the molars have erupted, before the teeth have a chance to decay. As long as the sealant remains intact, the tooth surface could be almost 100% protected from tooth decay. During regular dental visits, your dentist will check the condition of the dental sealants and reapply them when necessary.
The use of pit and fissure dental sealants in combination with fluoride is the most cost-effective way to protect the teeth of children who are at higher risk for tooth decay.