What are sealants and why are they being recommended?
When the back teeth form under the gum, there are small areas called pits and fissures that form in the enamel on the biting surface of the teeth. The formation of these pits and fissures is completely normal and some people have deeper pits and fissures than others. The good news is that while teeth are developing under the gum tissue, they are completely free from bacteria. The teeth have not been introduced to bacteria before erupting into the mouth and are therefore not susceptible to decay. Unfortunately, teeth are introduced to bacteria as soon as they erupt into the mouth. The mouth is not a sterile cavity. While the surface of the teeth can be cleaned, the very small pits and fissures are impossible to clean and will be inoculated with bacteria. Therefore, sealants are recommend to seal off these pits and fissures to deprive these bacteria from the nutrients (i.e. sugars) and oxygen required to cause decay. A sealant is a resin material that is bonded to the pit and fissure areas. Sealants can be placed when the adult tooth has completely erupted through the gum tissue. Sealant placement is a painless procedure and does not require numbing. If sealants are placed properly they should last through adolescents and into early adulthood.