What are sealants?
A sealant is a liquid plastic applied to a tooth to protect it against decay. The precaution is often used on molars, the back teeth that bear the brunt of the work of chewing. The sealant is applied to the occlusal, or chewing, surface of the tooth. Pits and grooves can develop on these teeth, as they can in all teeth, and that's where cavities can begin. Generally, though, if a person has made it into his or her early 20's without cavities having developed in those pits and grooves, they're not likely to develop cavities after that point.
The procedure for applying a sealant is simple, safe and painless, calling for no drills or needles. The dentist dries the tooth and then etches the surface to be sealed with a mild acid that puts microscopic ridges on the tooth. The dentist then puts the liquid plastic over the area and it seeps into the etched surface. Some sealants harden by themselves in less than a minute. The sealant effectively blocks bacteria from entering the tooth.
Talk with your dentist about whether sealants are right for you or your family.
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