Brushing and flossing is great, but it’s not enough. Plaque and bacteria invade the deep grooves on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. These grooves are too small for the toothbrush bristles to get into. This allows bacteria to stay deep in the tooth’s crevices and create a cavity. Fortunately, these cavities can be prevented by placing a sealant on the tooth. A sealant is a thin plastic coating that is painted on the tooth by the dentist or hygienist, to keep bacteria out of the grooves. The plastic coating creates a protective shield over the grooves, which seals out the bacteria. Sealants do not require anesthetic or drilling. Sealants should be placed on the permanent teeth as soon after the tooth erupts into the mouth as possible. The first molars erupt around age 6. The second molars erupt around age 12. Your dentist or hygienist may also suggest sealants on the premolars, if they have deep grooves also. It is still important to do a good job brushing, and flossing, because the sealants only protect the chewing surface of the tooth. Cavities can still form on other surfaces of the tooth without proper home care.
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