Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings that protect the chewing surfaces of children's back teeth from decay (cavities). Because they have small pits and grooves, these surfaces are rough and uneven. Food and germs can get stuck in the pits and grooves and stay there for a long time because toothbrush bristles cannot brush them away. Sealants fill in the grooves and keep the food out.
Children should get sealants on their permanent molars as soon as they come in--before decay attacks the teeth. If the tooth is present in the mouth too long, the decay process may be initiated and sealants can no longer be placed. A more advanced procedure called a conservative composite may be indicated. Sealants, daily brushing and flossing, drinking fluoridated water, and regular dental check-ups are an important part of your child's oral health and the best defense against tooth decay.