Brushing and flossing are excellent practices to adapt to keep teeth healthy, but for an extra level of protection, dental sealants can be applied.
Dental sealants are a thin, plastic coating that is usually placed on the occlusal (chewing) surface of teeth. They are mainly used on the back teeth (molars and premolars), as those are the most difficult to clean and therefore the most susceptible to decay. Sealants can also be placed on deep grooves of teeth, where most tooth decay occurs.
To have dental sealants placed, the receiving teeth must first be cleaned thoroughly, then rinsed and dried. A special solution is applied to the dry surface of the teeth to help the sealants bond better. Once the teeth are dried again, the sealants are painted onto the teeth surfaces to cover the grooves or depressions. Then, depending on the type of sealant, they are hardened either by using a special curing light or simply left on its own to harden. When dry, the sealant will be a hard plastic varnish coating, and the tooth can be used as normal again.
It should be noted that dental sealants do not make teeth completely immune to decay – proper care must still be taken, especially to ensure the health of untreated teeth. This means regular brushing and flossing, along with regular visits to the dentist for exams and cleanings.