The first place that a tooth will usually get a cavity is the grooves that are on the chewing surface. These grooves can be intricate and hard to clean with a toothbrush. When the plaque is not completely removed from the grooves of the teeth the teeth can get cavities in these grooves. One solution to this problem is to place a sealant in the groove of the tooth to fill it in and keep plaque out of the groove. This makes tooth brushing more effective.
Benefits of Sealants
When a tooth is sealed before it has had a chance to become demineralized by plaque, the sealant can keep the plaque out of the groove where the toothbrush cannot reach it and this helps keep this demineralization from happening and help prevent tooth decay. Demineralization of the tooth enamel is the earliest stage in the process of getting a cavity.
Problems with Sealants
Sometimes sealants can cause a false sense of security. Although the sealant seals the deepest part of the groove, the enamel all around the sealant can still get plaque on it and this plaque needs to be removed with tooth brushing. If the tooth is not cleaned regularly with a toothbrush, the tooth will get a cavity at the edge of the sealant and the cavity can go under the sealant where it is hidden and not easily detected. Another problem with sealants is when they are placed over a small cavity. The cavity will grow under the sealant and is not noticed until it is much larger than it would have been if no sealant was placed at all.