Why aren't sealants used on all teeth?
Thorough brushing and flossing help remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth. Pits and fissures, however, are places that are extremely difficult to clean. Toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into depressions and grooves to extract food and plaque. The normal flow of saliva, which helps clean food particles from other areas of the mouth, cannot "wash out" pits and fissures. So they are places that are especially prone to decay. In fact, most cavities form in pit and fissure areas, and permanent molars are extremely susceptible to this form of decay. Sealants protect those vulnerable areas by "sealing out" plaque and food.
Do sealants have any other benefits in addition to preventing decay?
Sealants can also stop small areas of decay from becoming larger. Reliable clinical studies have confirmed that properly placed sealants, if kept, intact, will stop decay in enamel.
Is sealant application a complicated procedure?
Sealants are easy for a dental professional to apply and it takes only a few minutes to seal each tooth. The teeth that will be sealed are cleaned. Then the chewing surfaces are conditioned to help the sealant adhere to the tooth. The sealant is then "painted" onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. A special curing light is used to help the sealant harden.
How long do sealants last?
As long as the sealant remains intact, the tooth surface will be protected from decay. Sealants hold up well under the force of normal chewing and usually last several years before a reapplication is needed. During your regular dental visits, your dentist will check the condition of the sealants and reapply them when necessary.
Do sealants help save money?
Prevention is better than treatment. When one considers that properly applied and maintained sealants are extremely effective in preventing pit and fissure decay, sealants are a very cost-effective measure. Savings in both dollars and discomfort can be gained by application of sealants, rather than allowing decay and requiring the tooth to be restored. For the last few decades, the American Dental Association has evaluated sealants and a number of different brands have been awarded the ADA Seal of Acceptance, a symbol of a product's safety and effectiveness. This includes the brand of sealants that are used for our patients.