Sealants are a thin plastic coating painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth to prevent tooth decay. Sealant quickly bonds into the depressions and grooves of the teeth, forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth. Sealants last about five years. When they start to lose adhesion, they must be replaced.

Tooth sealants in the United States come in different strengths; the stronger the sealant, the more protection it offers. Sealant is used to prevent tooth decay and cavities in teeth that are at high risk of getting cavities like the permanent molars. The best candidates for sealant are children because their teeth are still developing and permanent teeth (molars) mostly start to grow after age 6.

What to Expect

Sealing an entire mouth of teeth takes only a few minutes—what could be easier? First, your dentist or dental hygienist will apply a special sealant to each tooth. This sealant bonds to each tooth so fluoride, which helps protect the surface of your teeth from decay, is retained for up to five years. After the sealant has dried, you are ready to go! The best part is that the sealant protects your teeth without changing or damaging their natural color or appearance.

Bacteria from food particles and saliva can get inside of teeth and cause cavities. Once the bacteria have been introduced, it only takes a few days for the cavity to appear on a tooth. At that point, if the cavity has not been treated by a dental professional, it will continue to expand and create more problems. Sealants have been proven to be an effective tool in protecting teeth from harmful bacteria.