Sealants, also referred to as dental sealants, consist of a plastic material that is placed on the chewing (occlusal) surface of the permanent back teeth — the molars and premolars — to help protect them from bacteria and acids that contribute to tooth decay. The plastic resin in sealants is placed by a dental hygienist into the depressions and grooves of the chewing surfaces of back teeth and a light is utilized to cure it to the enamel which acts as a barrier, protecting the enamel surface of the teeth from plaque and acids.
Thorough brushing and flossing helps remove food particles and plaque from the smooth surfaces of teeth, but toothbrushes can’t reach all the way into the depressions and grooves to extract all food and plaque. Plaque accumulates in these areas, and the acid from bacteria in the plaque attacks the enamel, causing cavities to develop. While fluoride helps prevent decay and helps protect all the surfaces of the teeth, dental sealants add extra protection for the grooved and pitted areas. Sealants can help protect these vulnerable areas by “sealing out” plaque and food debris from the occlusal surfaces of the teeth.