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A dental sealant is a strong liquid-plastic material that helps protect teeth from plaque. Plaque is a thin film of bacteria that sticks to teeth. The bacteria in plaque use sugars in food to make acids. These acids can damage the tooth's surface and cause tooth decay.
The sealant is put on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (molars). These teeth are more likely to develop tooth decay because food and bacteria easily get stuck in the pits and grooves of the surface. Some pits and grooves are so small that a toothbrush can't clean them out.
Sealants bond to the tooth's enamel. Enamel is the hard surface of the tooth. It covers the dentin, which protects and surrounds the tooth pulp. The pulp is the core of the tooth, the place where nerves and blood vessels are.
A dental sealant does not take the place of good dental care and use of fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash. It's still important to brush and floss daily.
Sealants can be used in children, starting at about age 6, and in teens and adults.
Dental sealants may wear down over time, but they can protect teeth from decay for years. Your dentist can check them and reapply them if needed.
Current as of: November 14, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Arden Christen DDS, MSD, MA, FACD - Dentistry
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