What is a dental sealant?
A dental sealant, also known as a sealant, is composite resin material that is placed on the top surface or chewing surface of molar or premolar teeth.
Why are dental sealants used?
The molar teeth and premolar teeth have grooves or pits on their top surface. Some people have deeper grooves on their molar and premolar teeth than others. Deep grooves or fissures provide an easy area for bacteria to dwell or infiltrate. Deep areas on the surface of the teeth are harder to keep clean with a toothbrush. The bristles of the toothbrush may be too broad to fit into the grooves on the teeth. When plaque accumulates in these areas, the bacteria located in the plaque produces acids. Acids from bacteria will damage the enamel and result in dental decay or cavities. Sealants are used to fill the deep grooves located on the top of the teeth. The dental sealant creates a smooth surface that prevents bacteria from dwelling on the top surface of the teeth. Keeping the top surface of the tooth clean is made easier with a smooth surface.
When is a dental sealant placed?
A dental sealant is usually placed on the first adult molar tooth once the tooth has completely erupted into the mouth. Once the other permanent molar and premolar teeth erupt into the mouth, dental sealants can be placed on them as well if they also have deep grooves. The time frame for placement of dental sealants on the molar and premolar teeth usually occurs between the ages of eleven to thirteen years. While it is most common to have dental sealants placed during these ages, adults can also have dental sealants. Especially if the adult teeth have deep grooves or there is a history of decay in those areas.
What does a dental sealant look like?
A dental sealant can be clear, white in colour or have a small hue or tint. This will depend on the type of dental material that is used.
Having a dental sealant can usually be done in one dental visit. There is no pain associated with this procedure and it is not very invasive. Some dental offices may perform an alternate procedure called a preventive resin.