Dental Sealants are one of the easiest ways to help prevent tooth decay.   Sealant is a protective resin coating which is applied to the pits and groove on the occlusal (chewing) surfaces of the posterior (back) teeth.  These natural grooves create areas where plaque bacteria can hide, and toothbrush bristles are too thick to reach the bottom.  That is why 80% of all cavities occur in these areas.  While Sealants are by no means a cure-all in preventing tooth decay, they help children and teens lower their overall decay rate, making Sealant application one of the most important preventative treatments available.

Children are much more susceptible to tooth decay than adults.  To prevent tooth decay, Sealants should be applied to the permanent teeth as soon as they become fully exposed.  A child's most cavity prone years continue through the mid-teens, and Sealant helps them get through this time by improving the tooth's strength and making enamel more cavity resistant.  At the offices of Old Dominion Family Dental, our goal is to preserve your smile, and Sealants help make that possible.

Which teeth can Sealant be applied to?

Sealant material is applied to the pits and grooves found on the biting surfaces of the posterior (back) teeth.  Sealant is not meant to be used on the areas between teeth or the flat areas of the anterior (front) teeth.  It is best to apply Sealant to a tooth which has just become fully erupted.  Teeth that already have fillings or decay can not be sealed.  Below is a list of teeth which can highly benefit from Sealant material.

  • First Molars or Six Year Molars
  • Second Molars or Twelve Year Molars
  • Third Molars or Wisdom Teeth - Only when in proper position and not treatment planned for extraction.
  • Primary (baby) Molars - Some Dentists recommend Sealant on all Primary Molars.  Our office policy is to only Seal Primary teeth which have excessively deep grooves or on a child with a high Decay Rate.
  • Premolars - Some Dentists recommend Sealant on all Premolars.  Our office policy is to only Seal Premolars which have excessively deep grooves or on a patient with a high Decay Rate.
  • Older Adult Teeth - Adults may choose to have Sealants placed on the occlusal (chewing) surfaces of molars and premolars if the tooth has never had decay or a previous Dental Restoration.


Deep pits and fissures are hard to reach with a toothbrush.
The sealant is applied with a special brush tip. It penetrates the hard-to-reach grooves and seals out bacteria that cause tooth decay.

Sealant material should only be applied to a freshly cleaned tooth.  Any questionable stain in the grooves of the tooth must be polished out with a small polishing burr. The tooth is then scrubbed with Coarse Pumice.  This is a polish paste containing no flavoring or fluoride because these additives have been found to effect the bonding mechanism to the enamel.  The tooth is then washed and dried before being isolated with cotton.  A mild etch solution is gently applied to the occlusal surface.  This roughens the surface of the grooves microscopically, creating a more effective surface for the Sealant to bond to.  The tooth is then washed and dried. Finally the sealant material is applied to the tooth and worked into the pits and grooves.  The material is hardened with Ultra-Violet light.  The bite is checked, and the Sealant is polished into occlusion.  The procedure is quick and painless, taking approximately two minutes per tooth.

Depending on the patient's chewing pattern, Sealant can effectively last for years.  The material is very durable, but the patient is advised to avoid chewing on ice cubes and hard sticky candy.   At Routine Preventive Visits, the Dentist or Hygienist will check to make sure the Sealant material is still in place.  At that time, Sealant can be touched up by adding more material if necessary.

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