Sealants are a form of preventive dentistry. We recommend sealants for both adults and children with deep grooves, pits and fissures on their teeth. Sealants are thin coatings that are placed on the chewing surfaces of back teeth to protect them from bacterial attack. They do this by keeping the germs and food particles out of the grooves.
Permanent molars are the most likely to benefit from sealants. The first molars usually come into the mouth around 6 years. Second molars at around age 12. It is best to apply sealants immediately the teeth erupt before they have a chance to decay.
Applying sealants does not involve drilling or removing tooth structure. The process is short and easy. After the tooth is cleaned, a special gel is applied on the teeth for a few seconds. The tooth is then washed off and dried and the sealant is painted onto the tooth surface. The dentist may shine a light on the sealant to make it harden. It takes about a minute for the sealant to form a protective covering.
As with anything new, the child may feel the sealant with his tongue. The sealant though is very thin and can only fill the pits, fissures and grooves. A sealant can last 5 to 10 years. Still, there is need for regular dental appointments so that the dentist can replace the sealant if it is wearing away.
Dr Biren Yajnik
Dental Surgeon, Sterling Dental
The writer is the Vice President of the Uganda Dental Association.