What Is a Sealant for Teeth and What Function Does It Serve?

In a perfect world, everyone would have a spotless set of shiny teeth. Daily brushing and flossing would be the only maintenance necessary to keep them this way. But that just isn't the case. A variety of dental treatment options are available to restore or, in some cases, prevent the loss of your natural pearly whites. One such option is a sealant for teeth.

What Is a Dental Sealant?

According to Mayo Clinic, a dental sealant is a plastic coating designed to protect the bicuspids and molars. Applied to the chewing surfaces of those teeth, it keeps plaque and acid from eating away at the enamel. Because the grooves on the bicuspids and molars help to grind food, certain food particles can collect in those grooves and pits, resulting in tooth decay. Brushing and flossing on a regular basis removes some particles and bacteria, but not all. Therefore, a sealant for teeth is sometimes necessary to protect those areas in the back of your mouth that brushing and flossing can't reach.

When to Use a Sealant

Dental sealants act as a preventative step against tooth decay. Much like how fluoride protects tooth surfaces, sealants complement the fluoride's effect for those grooved areas of your back teeth. Their application is a fairly simple procedure with minimal discomfort, if any at all. Your dentist will give your teeth a thorough cleaning first, before applying the sealant to their chewing surfaces. After the sealant is put on, it bonds with the existing tooth enamel, and the use of a curing light helps the sealant to harden in place. The entire process can be performed in a single visit.

Teeth Sealant Pros and Cons

Receiving a dental sealant is considered safe whether it's for a child, teenager or adult. With any process, however, there are some pros and cons. My Family Dentistry in Powell, Tennessee offers a few of each.

  • Sealants reduce cavities.

  • The process is simple and pain-free.

  • Sealants last a long time.


  • Some patients express concerns over bisphenol-A (BPA).
  • Not everyone benefits from sealants.

  • They can't be applied to teeth with decay or fillings.

A teeth sealant procedure shouldn't become a necessity. To avoid it, be diligent with your oral care, using a toothpaste such as Colgate® Cavity Protection to fight against tooth decay. The American Dental Association (ADA) also recommends eating healthy foods and limiting the convenient snacks. And of course, schedule those dental checkups. Your dentist stands with you on the front lines of defense against the things from which your teeth can't protect themselves on their own.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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What to Expect During a SEALANT Procedure

Placing dental sealants is usually painless and doesn't require drilling or numbing medications.

  1. Tooth preparation – first, the dental hygienist will polish the surface of the tooth to remove plaque and food debris from the pit and fissure surfaces. Next the hygienist will isolate and dry the tooth. Then the hygienist will etch the surface of the tooth, rinse off the etching material and dry the tooth.

  2. Sealant application – the hygienist will apply the dental sealant material to the surface of the tooth with a brush; a self-curing light will be used for about 30 seconds to bond the sealant to the tooth surface.

  3. Evaluation – finally, the dental hygienist and dentist will evaluate the dental sealant and check its occlusion. Once the dental sealant has hardened it becomes a hard plastic coating, and you can chew on the tooth again.