What are dental sealants, how long do they last, and who should get them?
Brushing and flossing your teeth regularly greatly decreases your chances of developing tooth decay. However, even when practicing the best oral hygiene, some areas of the mouth are difficult to reach with a just a brush and floss. The back teeth, in particular, tend to have small pits and crevices in which food particles and bacteria can easily become lodged. Over time, this debris can cause cavities to form.
Dental sealants are a proven method for preventing tooth decay because they literally “seal off” these susceptible areas, discouraging the build-up of food and bacteria. Dental sealants are made from a liquid resin that is applied to the chewing surfaces of the teeth. Once treated with a high-intensity light, the resin hardens into a thin white plastic that is so similar to the natural color of the teeth, it’s virtually invisible. When properly maintained, the barrier created by the dental sealants can last for up to ten years.
We recommend dental sealants for all children as soon as their permanent molars have come in, usually between the ages of five and seven. In addition, adults who have an unusually rough surface on their back teeth are good candidates for sealants.