Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings that are applied to the grooves on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to protect them from tooth decay. Most tooth decay in children and teens occurs on these surfaces. Sealants protect the chewing surfaces from tooth decay by keeping germs and food particles out of these grooves.
How are dental sealants applied?
Applying dental sealants does not require drilling or removing tooth structure. The process is short and easy. After the tooth is cleaned, a special gel is placed on the chewing surface for a few seconds. The tooth is then washed off and dried. Then, the sealant is painted on the tooth. The dentist or dental hygienist also may shine an ultraviolet light on the tooth to help harden the sealant. It takes about a minute for the sealant to form a protective shield against decay.
How long do dental sealants last?
A dental sealant can last for as long as 5 to 10 years. Sealants should be checked at your regular dental appointment and reapplied if they are no longer in place.