Sealants are a great way to protect against tooth decay and cavities on your back teeth (premolars and molars). These are the teeth that are most vulnerable to cavities and decay because they are used in the chewing process, and are the most difficult to reach and clean. Premolars and molars erupt into the mouth (come in) between the ages of 5 to 14 years. It is best to have sealants placed when these teeth first come in to ensure they are protected early.
To place a sealant the grooves of the tooth are thoroughly cleaned and dried and a resin material is applied. The material flows into the deep crevices in the tooth and is hardened with a blue wavelength light. The sealant creates a smooth surface on the tooth that is easy to clean and forms a protective barrier between your tooth and plaque, food particles, and bacteria. Sealants are most beneficial when applied to newly erupted teeth but can also be used in adults who have had many cavities to decrease the likelihood of further decay. As with all dental restorations and materials, regular maintenance is important for sealants to be effective long-term.