What is a dental sealant?

A sealant is a plastic material that is usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth -- premolars and molars. 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.

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.
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A dental sealant is one way that you can prevent cavities from developing on the chewing surface of your teeth. The sealant is a liquid plastic that is filled into the grooves of your back molars. The liquid hardens and forms a protective covering over the enamel of the tooth. The covering stops any existing bacteria in the grooves from forming acid because food cannot get stuck in the teeth anymore. With no acid in the plaque, cavities are less likely to develop. Dental sealants only need occasional repair, but can last up to 10 years. They are recommended to all children.

Continue Learning about Cavities

Cavities

Cavities are tiny holes in your teeth that have developed from decay. Left untreated, cavities will get larger, and can cause toothache and possible loss of teeth. Anybody can get a cavity, but you put yourself at greater risk if ...

you don't brush regularly, or frequently consume sweets or sugary drinks. Your dentist can help prevent cavities with fluoride treatments, and can find them by taking pictures (X-rays) of the teeth. Once found, the dentist may treat your cavity with a filling or if extensive, with a crown. If there has been an extensive infection, other treatments, including antibiotics or a root canal surgery may be indicated.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.