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Since the 1970s, in the United States, the incidence of tooth decay on the smooth surfaces of teeth has declined, in part because of fluoridation becoming widespread in public water supplies as well as improved dental hygiene among the public. However, because the teeth in the back of the mouth (molars and premolars) have numerous pits and fissures on their biting surfaces, certain areas of these teeth are often difficult to clean even with vigorous tooth-brushing. To remedy this, research into dental sealants began in the 1960s and by the early 1970s, the first generation of sealants became available and were approved by the FDA.
Dental sealants are usually applied in a dentist's office. The dentist or assistant first cleans and dries the tooth to be treated, then paints a thin layer of liquid plastic material on the pits and fissures of the tooth. After application of the plastic liquid, blue spectrum natural light is shined on the applied material for a few seconds to cure the plastic. Alternatively, some brands of sealants self-cure via a chemical process.
After curing, the plastic becomes a hard, thin layer covering the treated portions of the tooth. Despite the incredible pressures effected on teeth during chewing each day, dental sealants may remain effective for five years or longer, although sealants do wear naturally and may become damaged over time. Bacteria and food particles may eventually become entrapped under the dental sealants, and can thus cause decay in the very teeth over which they aim to protect.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Dental_sealant". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|