By Heidi Emmerling Muñoz, PhD, and Jan Carver Silva, RDH, MSHS
The dental profession has long regarded dental sealants as a primary element in the prevention of dental caries. Sealants provide a physical barrier between the spaces created by anatomical pits and fissures of posterior teeth and the cariogenic bacteria, thereby halting incipient lesions and preventing cavitation. Proper techniques must be implemented when placing sealants for optimal retention and patient safety. Patients must understand that sealants are one element for overall preventive dentistry. This article will review the epidemiology and efficacy of sealants; indications for use; the various types and categorization of sealants; characteristics for successful sealants; proper placement procedures for pit and fissure sealants; sealant maintenance; and factors to teach patients.
At the end of this self-instructional educational activity, the participant will be able to:
- Describe the basic placement of pit and fissure sealants.
- Discuss the clinician's role in optimizing best practices and safe use of pit and fissure sealants.
- Educate patients on the role of dental sealants in an effective caries prevention program.
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