Sealants are coatings that are placed on the chewing surfaces of teeth. Their placement can save literally thousands of dollars over the course of a lifetime. To place a sealant, the dentist or assistant will clean all of the plaque off the tooth. This can be done with a traditional prophy cup, just like one used when getting ones teeth cleaned, or by air abrasion, kind of like a mini-sandblaster. Then, an acid solution is placed in the chewing surface. This will etch the enamel surface of the tooth. The enamel has a frosty appearance but microscopically, there are huge crevasses created when the acid dissolves away some of the mineral content of the tooth surface. It is this microscopic layer that is responsible for the retention of sealants. At this point, the acid is thoroughly rinsed off and a liquid plastic is flowed over the surface. An extremely intense light beam is placed over the area which hardens the plastic. The liquid has flowed into the microscopic crevasses and is not hardened in such a way that the sealant “adheres” to the tooth. Sealants are used only on the chewing surfaces to seal the tiny pits and fissures that are very susceptible to cavities. It will not seal in between the teeth or at the gum line. By placing sealants at an early age when the teeth are most susceptible to decay, it can help prevent cavities. Once a cavity is in place, it will have to be maintained over a person’s lifetime, necessitating multiple re-fills and many dollars spent. That is why it is best to place the sealants on children.