Thorough brushing and flossing help remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth. But toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the depressions and grooves to extract food and plaque. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas by “sealing out” plaque and food.
Sealants are easy for your dentist to apply. The sealant is painted onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. This plastic resin bonds into the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the chewing surfaces of back teeth. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids. As long as the sealant remains intact, the tooth surface will be protected from decay. Sealants hold up well under the force of normal chewing and may last several years before a reapplication is needed. During your regular dental visits, your dentist will check the condition of the sealants and reapply them when necessary.
The likelihood of developing pit and fissure decay begins early in life, so children and teenagers are obvious candidates. But adults can benefit from sealants as well.
Key ingredients in preventing tooth decay and maintaining a healthy mouth are:
Brushing twice a day with an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste.
Cleaning between the teeth daily with floss or another interdental cleaner.
Eating a balanced diet and limiting snacks.
Visiting your dentist regularly.
Ask your dentist about whether sealants can put extra power behind your prevention program.
ADA Evidence-based Clinical Recommendations
Clinical questions remain about the indications for placing pit-and-fissure sealants, the criteria for their placement over early non-cavitated caries and techniques to improve retention and effectiveness. In an attempt to provide clinical guidance on these questions, the ADA convened an expert panel that conducted a critical evaluation of the collective body of published scientific evidence. The panel’s conclusions and clinical recommendations are presented as a tool for dentists to use in making clinically sound decisions about sealant use and should be integrated with the practitioner’s professional judgment and the individual patient’s needs and preferences.