Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings which are applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to prevent decay. Most tooth decay in children and teenagers occurs on the chewing surfaces with pits and grooves which tend to trap food and bacteria. Sealants fill in these pits and grooves so that bacteria cannot multiply and cause decay.
Applying sealants is quite simple and may be done by a dental hygienist or dentist. First, the teeth are cleaned. Then the teeth to be sealed are dabbed with conditioning solution similar in strength to vinegar or lemon juice. This roughens the tooth surface slightly so that the sealant will bond to it. After the tooth is prepared, the sealant is painted onto the tooth. It flows into the pits and grooves and hardens in about 60 seconds. Sealed teeth do not allow bacteria to reach the pits and grooves and cause decay. Applying sealants requires no drilling or removal of the tooth surface.