Dental sealant is a thin coat of plastic which is painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth. They are normally applied on the premolars and molars to shield them from decay and plaque. Sealants are usually recommended for children whose permanent teeth have erupted, but they are not strictly for children. Adults can apply sealants on their teeth as well.
Although thorough brushing and flossing can remove food particles and plaque off the smooth surfaces of teeth, it is harder to reach the nooks and crannies of the back teeth. Sealants help protect these areas from tooth decay by sealing out plaque and food.
Candidates for sealants are children and teenagers because the likelihood of developing decay in the depressions and grooves of their back teeth are higher. However, adults without decay or fillings on their teeth are also good candidates.
Children should get sealants on their molars and premolars as soon as they come in. This way they are protected through the cavity-prone years of ages 6 to 14. There are instances where sealants are used on baby teeth as some children have deep depressions and grooves on them. Due to the importance of baby teeth holding the correct spacing for permanent teeth, it is very important to keep them healthy until the permanent teeth come in.
How long do they last?
In theory, they can last for up to 10 years. However, it is necessary to have your dentist check for chips and wear during regular check-ups.