Sealants are a plastic material applied to the chewing surface of permanent molars that provide a physical barrier to bacterial invasion of pits and fissures.
Sealants are effective because 90% of caries lesions in school-aged children occur in the pits and fissures of molars, the place a sealant seals and protects.
The first permanent molars erupt at age 6 and the second permanent molars around age 12.
Sealants can be applied at any time based on caries risk assessment performed by the dental professional.
A properly applied sealant is virtually 100% effective in preventing a cavity at the site of the sealant.
An area of decay in a tooth .
Using sealants is cost-effective. One sealant costs less than half the cost of a single filling.
Sealants need to be used in addition to fluoride. Fluoride primarily benefits the smooth surfaces of teeth, whereas sealants protect the grooved surfaces.
Fluoride is effective in the prevention of caries and can be delivered through many modalities.
The most important effect of fluoride is the topical effect. (Refer to Chapter 6: Fluoride for more information.)