When you eat or drink foods that contain sugar, germs in your mouth use the sugar to make acids. Over time, the acids can cause tooth decay, or cavities.
Fluoride in toothpaste and drinking water can protect the smooth surfaces of teeth, but back teeth need extra protection. Food and germs get stuck in their rough and uneven chewing surfaces, and toothbrush bristles can’t always get them clean. That’s where sealants come in.
Sealants are thin, plastic coatings painted on the chewing surfaces of back teeth to keep out germs and food. They prevent cavities from forming. And if a small cavity is accidentally covered by a sealant, the decay won’t spread because new germs are sealed out and germs trapped inside are sealed off from their food supply.
Many people still don’t know about sealants. In fact, only 30% of children in the United States have sealants on their teeth.
Children should get sealants on their permanent molars as soon as the teeth come in, before decay attacks them. Teenagers and young adults who are prone to decay may also need sealants. Sealants can save you time and money in the long run by helping you avoid the fillings, crowns and caps used to fix decayed teeth. Talk to your dentist about sealants for your family.