S - Sealants (A to Z Challenge April 2014)

What is a dental sealant?
A dental sealant is a thin plastic film painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth to prevent cavities.Sealants stick or bond to the surfaces of teeth. Sealants do not dissolve in saliva and are safe. 

Where are sealants put?
The permanent molars found in the back of the mouth have the highest risk of tooth decay and benefit the most from the application of dental sealants. In most children, the first permanent molars appear about age six or seven years and the second molars about age 11 or 12 years. Children should get sealants on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as these teeth come in. In this way, the sealants can protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years of ages 6 to 14. 

Who is a good candidate for sealants?
Because of the likelihood of developing decay in the depressions and grooves of the premolars and molars, children and teenagers are candidates for sealants. However, adults without decay or fillings in their molars can also benefit from sealants.

How are sealants put?
The sealant is painted onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. 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. As long as the sealant remains intact, the tooth surface will be protected from decay. 

How long do sealants last?
Sealants can protect teeth from decay for up to 10 years, but they need to be checked for chipping or wearing at regular dental check-ups. Your dentist can replace sealants as necessary.


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