Sealants are a type of resin filling material used to block out food and bacteria from the deep fissures on the biting surfaces of the tooth. On a microscopic level, fissures also have the thinnest enamel covering on the biting surface and hence are often a weak spot in a tooth.
The cusps of the teeth funnel food debris into the fissures and some can be so deep that brushing is not adequate enough to dislodge the food and bacteria. This is why most fillings occur in this area of the tooth.
Not every tooth requires this though, as most tooth fissures are shallow and easily cleaned. Ones which are deep enough to routinely attract and collect food debris are generally selected. The sealant can only be placed on unfilled teeth without decay.
This is therefore a preventative measure and technically there is nothing wrong with the tooth. Provision is done on a risk basis which is open to interpretation.
The procedure is very straightforward, requiring no drill or anaesthetic making it ideal for children and dental phobes. A mild acid solution is placed on the tooth to etch and clean the enamel for seconds. It is then washed off and the resin is painted on and hardened with a light.
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