The areas of greatest susceptibility to decay are the deep grooves in the enamel of the teeth. While fluoride is very effective in increasing the resistance of smooth surfaces to decay, it is not as effective in preventing decay in the pits and fissures found on the biting surfaces of posterior teeth.
The best form of decay prevention in these areas is a dental sealant. A product of enamel bonding technology, sealants are adhesive resins which adhere to the grooves of the teeth without mechanical alteration of the tooth surfaces. The pits and fissures are sealed to prevent the entry of decay causing bacteria. When sealants are applied soon after the eruption of permanent teeth and used in conjunction with other preventive measures such as regular professional cleanings and fluoride treatments, clinical studies have shown decreases in decay of fifty to ninety percent.
Because sealant material is thin and susceptible to wear and breakage,sealants need to be checked carefully as part of a thorough dental examination and replaced periodically, especially during the years of childhood and adolescence.