Sealants are a thin plastic coating that is painted on the chewing surfaces of the premolars and molars. These teeth are the most vulnerable because they are the most difficult to reach and clean and are used in the chewing process. The liquid sealant quickly bonds into the grooves and depressions of teeth forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth. This "seal" helps prevent tooth decay and cavities.
Children should get sealants as their permanent molars and premolars erupt. This will ensure the teeth are protected through the cavity prone ages of 6 to 14. Being proactive is the best way to prevent decay.
Applying sealants is a simple, painless process that should only take a few minutes. First the teeth are cleaned and an acid solution is applied to help make the surface more bondable. The sealant is then painted onto the tooth enamel where it adheres directly to the tooth and hardens. Sealants last for about 10 years and can be reapplied if necessary.