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What are sealants?

The American Dental Association, defines dental sealants as a type of plastic material applied to teeth, to prevent dental cavities. According to Dr. Jason McCargar, DMD, sealants are a highly effective option to help prevent cavities. They are proven safe and are cost-effective for those patients that are prone to cavities. The majority of cavities occur in the small pits and crevices on and in-between teeth where food gets caught. Because the teeth in the back of the mouth (molars and premolars) have the most natural grooves and fissures on their biting surfaces, certain areas of these teeth are often difficult to clean even with vigorous tooth-brushing. Therefore, these are often the teeth that benefit the most from dental sealants. First the affected area of the tooth must be clean and dry, then a thin layer of liquid plastic material is applied and allowed to dry and harden. Dental sealants may remain effective for five years or longer, although sealants do wear naturally with chewing and may become damaged over time. Often an area that would easily become a cavity is saved by simply “sealing-off” the space between the tooth and any future bacteria or future food particles. However, the dental sealants do not protect against gum disease, so regular dental checkups are still important for overall oral health.