Dental sealants are typically recommended for children as permanent teeth are erupting in the mouth. Sealants provide a barrier to prevent bacteria and food from collecting in the grooves and pits of the teeth and causing a cavity. They are thin, tooth colored plastic coatings applied in the dental office onto the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, a prime spot for cavities.
Sealants are best suited for permanent first molars which erupt around the age of 6 and second molars that erupt around the age of 12. It is important to have the sealant applied as soon as the tooth has fully erupted. They may also be recommended for the pre-molars if there are deep pits and fissures present.
Sealants may last for several years once applied, but should always be examined at a regular checkup. Even if the sealant becomes lost, the material that has penetrated the enamel will still provide protection. Sealants are easily replaced if necessary. Sealants are nearly 100% effective in preventing decay in the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, but brushing and flossing are still necessary.