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Armor for Your Teeth

What are sealants?

Knights wear armor to protect them in battle. Sealants are like armor for your teeth. They seal the parts of your teeth you use to chew. This keeps out the food and bacteria that make holes in your teeth called cavities.

Sealants are put on your back teeth. These teeth are called molars. The tops of these teeth have little grooves. Food can get stuck in these grooves and a toothbrush can't always get it out. Sealants fill in these grooves and help keep out the food and bacteria that cause cavities.

When do I get sealants?

Your dentist or hygienist will put sealants on when your adult molars come in. Your first adult molars come in when you are about 6 years old. More adult back teeth come in when you are between 11 and 14 years old. Sometimes your dentist might put sealants on other teeth if you get cavities easily or if you have trouble brushing your teeth well. Your dentist might also put sealants on teeth that look like they are starting to get a cavity.

Does it hurt?

No. It doesn't hurt at all. All you have to do is keep your mouth open while the sealants are being put on.

How does it work?

First, your dentist or hygienist will clean the teeth that are going to be sealed, and then dry the teeth very well.

Your dentist or hygienist will apply a liquid or gel to the chewing surface of your back teeth. This makes your teeth a little rough. That helps the sealants stick to the teeth. After about thirty seconds the gel is washed off with water.

The teeth are then dried. They need to be very dry so that the sealants will stay on. The dentist or hygienist might put cotton rolls next to your teeth to keep them really dry.

Then your dentist or hygienist will brush or dab the liquid sealants on your teeth. He or she will shine a bright blue light on your teeth. This makes the sealants hard. You will need to wear special sunglasses or close your eyes to keep the light from shining in your eyes. Some types of sealants harden by themselves and don't need the light.

Will I feel funny after?

No. You will feel fine. You can go ride a bike, play soccer, or whatever you want to do as soon as you leave the dentist's office. And you can eat and drink right away.

Will my teeth feel funny?

Sometimes after getting sealants placed on your teeth, it may feel like you are biting on something. But that feeling will go away quickly. After a while, you won't even know the sealants are there.

Will sealants last the rest of my life?

Sealants can last a long time, maybe as long as 10 years. But sealants will not last forever! They can wear away or chip. When you go for a check-up, your dentist will check your sealants and fix them if necessary.

Do I still need to brush?

Yes! Sealants are a great way to help to protect your teeth, but you can still get cavities if you do not take care of your teeth in other ways! It's important to also brush and floss your teeth every day and eat a healthy diet.

How It's Done

A dental tool called an explorer is used to check crevices in the molar
1. Here, you can see the grooves in your back teeth.

A solution that etches the tooth surface
2. The dentist or hygienist will apply a special liquid or gel that will make your tooth a little rough to help the sealants stick.

Water is used to rinse off the etching solution
3. Your tooth will be washed off with water.

Air is blown on the tooth to dry it
4. The dentist or hygienist will blow air on your tooth to dry it very well.

The liquid sealants are put on the tooth
5. The liquid sealants will be brushed or dabbed onto your tooth.

A bright blue light hardens the sealants
6. A bright, blue light makes the sealants hard like armor. Some sealants harden without the light.

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