Tooth decay occurs most often on the back teeth when plaque attaches to the deep pits and grooves of the molars and pre-molars. Regular brushing and flossing removes most of the plaque from the tooth surfaces but the bristles of a tooth brush cannot reach into all of the fissures on the tooth. Sealants help protect these vulnerable areas of the tooth surface.
Sealants are made of a plastic-like material. They are applied in the dental office. Before placing a sealant, the tooth will be cleaned, the dentist will then use an acid solution to rough the enamel. Then the sealant material is painted on and may be cured by an ultra-violet light. Sealants are very effective and cost efficient. Under normal biting conditions, the sealant will not need to be replaced for several years.
Children are most likely to develop cavities in the pits and grooves of molars and premolars which makes them ideal candidates for sealants. But, adults can benefit from sealants as well. The dentist will check the condition of the sealant at each dental visit and will be repairs or re-applications as necessary.
Proper brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day are the best ways to prevent dental decay. Eating a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals will also contribute to good dental health. The placement of sealants is an effective way to prevent the formation of tooth decay.