Thorough brushing and flossing help remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth. But toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the small cracks and grooves on your teeth to extract food and plaque. Despite their best efforts, children often have a difficult time brushing and flossing effectively, especially the hard to reach back teeth. These areas can often develop tooth decay. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas by "sealing out" plaque and food.
Dental sealants are a plastic resin that bonds and hardens in the deep groves on your tooth's surface. Sealants are easy for your dentist to apply. The sealant is painted onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds to the tooth and hardens. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids. Sealants hold up well under the force of normal chewing and may last several years before a reapplication is needed. Sealants only provide protection when they are fully intact so your dentist will check the condition of the sealants during your routine checkups and reapply them when necessary.
The likelihood of developing pit and fissure decay begins early in life, so sealants are typically aplied to children's teeth as a preventative measure to prevent tooth decay. However, adults can benefit from sealants as well.