Dental Sealants are used to seal grooves on back teeth that may be prone to decay. Sealants are primarily used for children to protect their adult back teeth and are not painted on the entire tooth’s surface, but only over pits and fissures , the areas that are most prone to decay. Sealants are a simple and relatively inexpensive way to protect teeth and when used properly, will help keep children’s adult teeth free from decay.
When placing sealants, I pumice off the tooth surface to be bonded, wash off the pumice and dry the tooth. The surface to be sealed is etched with a 37% phosphoric acid etch solution for approximately 30 seconds , then washed and dryed. A small amount of plastic sealant is placed in grooves and pits and set with a bonding light for 40 seconds. The whole procedure is painless and takes about 5 minutes per tooth. The most difficult part of the procedure is to get children to sit still during the procedure and to manage the field to keep the tooth free from saliva during the bonding process. I use an assistant to help me manage the ‘field’ adjacent to the tooth.
Sealants need to be inspected during each subsequent dental examination and if missing or loose need to be replaced. They certainly help prevent cavities from developing in teeth, especially during the most cavity prone years of childhood. Adults, at least partly due to their better oral hygiene and diet, do not seem to be as likely to develop new areas of pit and fissure decay.