Dental Sealants: A Shield for Your Smile Against Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is a prevalent oral health issue that affects people of all ages, but certain preventive measures can significantly lower the risk of cavities. Dental sealants are a powerful tool in the fight against decay, providing a protective coating that shields the grooves of the teethā€”areas most vulnerable to plaque accumulation and cavity formation. In this article, we’ll delve into the benefits of dental sealants, how they work to prevent tooth decay, and the simple application process that can be the difference between frequent dental work and a healthy smile.

Protection Against Tooth Decay

Dental sealants act as a barrier, safeguarding the depressions and grooves of the teeth, particularly the molars and premolars. These surfaces are the most prone to carrying leftover food and hosting bacterial colonies that release acids, which gradually erode tooth enamel, leading to decay. The sealant is a thin, liquid plastic material applied to the chewing surfaces of the teeth, which quickly hardens to form a smooth overlay that prevents food and plaque from getting trapped.


The protective capacity of dental sealants is impressive. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sealants can reduce the risk of decay in molars by up to 80%. These sealants can stay effective for as long as ten years, though they should be regularly checked for chipping or wearing at regular dental checkups.

Suitable Candidates for Dental Sealants

While children and teenagers are the most obvious candidates for sealants, given that the likelihood of developing decay in the depressions and grooves of the premolars and molars is highest during these years, adults can also benefit from them. In fact, anyone without fillings or decay can be a candidate for sealants. They are particularly advantageous for those with deep grooves in their teeth, where brushing and flossing might not be fully effective.

Dental SealantsĀ Application Process

The process of getting dental sealants is straightforward, painless, and can be completed in a single visit to the dentist. Below, we break down the step-by-step journey to getting this protective measure.

Cleaning the Tooth

The first step involves thoroughly cleaning the tooth that is to receive the sealant. A dental hygienist will use a paste and a rotating brush to clean the chewing surfaces of the teeth, ensuring that no plaque or food remnants interfere with the bonding process.

Preparing the Tooth

Once the tooth is cleaned, it will be washed with water and dried. Next, an acidic solution is applied to the rugged chewing surfaces of the molar or premolar. This solution roughens up the tooth surface on a microscopic level to allow the sealant a more effective bondā€”a process known as etching.

Rinsing and Drying

After the etching solution has done its job, the tooth is once again rinsed and dried. It’s crucial that the tooth remains completely dry during the application of the sealant, as any moisture can prevent the sealant from adhering correctly.

Applying the Sealant

Once the tooth is dry, the dentist or hygienist will carefully apply the sealant onto the tooth’s surface, where it seeps into the grooves and pits. Some sealants are clear, while others have a slight tint; regardless, they are all but invisible once in place.

Curing the Sealant

The final step involves curing or hardening the sealant. Most dental practices will use a special curing light that hardens the sealant within a matter of seconds. Once the sealant has set, it becomes a hard plastic coating, and you can chew on the tooth again.

Dental Sealants Aftercare and Considerations

After the sealant has been applied, itā€™s important to maintain good oral hygiene habits to prolong their effectiveness. Regular brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and avoiding excessive consumption of sugary and acidic foods will help preserve the integrity of the sealants and keep the teeth healthy.

Sealants do not negate the need for fluoride, which helps prevent decay and can repair minor tooth damage. Fluoride treatments, in conjunction with sealants, provide a comprehensive defensive strategy against tooth decay.


Dental sealants offer a formidable defence against tooth decay, particularly for the back teeth that are difficult to reach and clean thoroughly. With a quick and simple application process, they provide a lasting solution that could save time, money, and the discomfort associated with dental caries. Whether for children, teens, or adults, sealants are an investment in oral health that yields dividends in the form of a durable, beautiful smile. The combination of sealants, fluoride, good oral hygiene, and regular dental visits is a recipe for maintaining optimal dental health well into the future.

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