Over the past 15 or more years, numerous materials and techniques have been developed to seal the top (occlusal) surfaces of teeth. These procedures are necessary because many teeth have defective occlusal surfaces when they complete mineralization, and food debris and microorganisms penetrate into the tooth during eating. Patients cannot clean these areas effectively and dental decay (caries) occur frequently.
Do all Teeth need to be Sealed ?
Usually only the back (posterior) teeth require sealing. We cannot tell which teeth require sealing, since the incomplete fusion of the teeth often leaves a nearly microscopic entry from the enamel outside of the tooth into the softer dentin inside. Therefore, it is suggested that all posterior teeth and selected anterior teeth be sealed. A few teeth that do not require sealing may be sealed inadvertently, because it is impossible to select defective from non-defective teeth at an early age.
Will all Decay be Prevented ?
Sealants prevent the majority of decay on the chewing surfaces of the teeth. However, routine flouride therapy is required to decrease decay initiation on other surfaces of the teeth. Decay may begin between the teeth even if sealants have been placed if flossing and brushing are not adequate.
The cost for sealing a tooth with plastic is less than half the cost of filling (restoring) the tooth in the event of decay. Further, the sealant does not require cutting or weakening the tooth, while normal restorations require cutting and weakening of the tooth.
How Long do Sealants Last ?
Studies show sealants last many years. However, occasional re-sealing may be required depending on diet and other factors.