Dental Sealant FAQs
What are dental sealants?
Dental sealants are small typically clear or white plastic coatings that are placed on the chewing (occlusal) surfaces of permanent back teeth - molars and premolars - to help protect teeth from decay.
Why are sealants placed on teeth?
The chewing surfaces of molars and premolars often have grooves called fissures that make the teeth more susceptible to decay. These deep grooves can be difficult to keep clean even with the use of a toothbrush therefore they accumulate and when not removed lead to decay. Dental sealants provide extra protection to the grooves of the teeth by providing a smooth surface where plaque cannot accumulate.
When are dental sealants placed and on which teeth?
Dental sealants are typically placed upon eruption of the first permanent molar teeth once the tooth has erupted beyond the gum tissues. The only teeth that do not typically get dental sealants are the wisdom teeth which come after the first and the second permanent molars have erupted. Dental sealants may also be placed on other teeth such as premolars if they have significant grooves or pits but are not typically placed. Feel free to ask your dentist which teeth they suggest you place dental sealants.
How is the dental sealant placed?
Dental sealants can be placed by either by the dentist, hygienist or certified dental assistant. The tooth is first thoroughly cleaned with a paste then washed and dried. A solution that is acidic is then placed on the grooves of the teeth for a few seconds before being rinsed off. This acidic solution creates microscopic areas to create a rough surface on the enamel so the bonding of the sealant is successful. After the tooth is dried again, the dental sealant is placed on the tooth and hardened with a curing light. Once the sealant has hardened it becomes a hard plastic varnish coating and you may chew on the tooth again.
How long does a dental sealant last?
Dental sealants have been shown to be effective in helping prevent decay on chewing (occlusal) surfaces and have been proven to be effective since the 1970s. Dental sealants can last many years but at each dental check-up they will be evaluated to ensure they are still effective on the tooth.