Sealants are clear or white plastic coatings that are applied to the surface of the permanent teeth. If you have ever noticed, your teeth are not flat, they have pits and grooves. These pits are more susceptible to bacteria causing decay.
Most dentists recommend sealants be applied as soon as the permanent teeth come in. Children receive the most benefit from having sealants applied to newly erupted teeth. Each tooth takes only a few minutes to be sealed.
To apply a sealant, a liquid or gel is placed to the top surface of the tooth. This liquid is washed and the tooth is dried. The plastic coating is then applied and hardened with a blue light.
The entire process is painless and easy for children. The American Dental Association states that sealants play an important role in prevention of tooth decay. Research has shown that sealants can reduce cavities by as much as 70%. The sealants last from 2-5 years and can be redone when necessary.