Dental decay on the back teeth, premolars, and molars usually begin in the grooves and fissures that normally exist on the biting surfaces of the back teeth. Dental sealants, available since the 1960s, are clear plastic coatings that can be placed on the biting and grinding surfaces of posterior teeth. These sealants prevent the formation of decay on the treated surfaces. Sealants can even be placed on teeth with small areas of decay known as incipient carious lesions. The sealants will stop the customary progress of tooth destruction. It can remain on the tooth from between 3 and 20 years, depending on the tooth, type of sealant used, and the eating habits of the patient. It can only be placed on teeth that have not been previously restored.
The sealant is placed on the tooth through a chemical/mechanical bonding procedure. There is no drilling or local anesthesia required for the sealant application procedure. It is entirely painless.