The grooves and depressions in the chewing surfaces of back teeth are extremely difficult (if not impossible) to clean. Acids formed by bacteria and food sugars organize in these areas and break down tooth enamel, causing tooth decay. Studies indicate that 88 percent of tooth decay in American school children begins in this manner.
Tooth sealants protect these susceptible areas by covering the tooth surface with a durable resin material, preventing bacteria and food particles getting trapped and making the area easier to keep clean. Sealants can last for several years, but can become dislodged by sticky foods, so they should be checked during regular appointments.
Sealants should be applied as a child’s permanent teeth erupt. Adult molars and premolars can also be sealed, provided the tooth does not show evidence of decay.