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Brushing twice daily and avoiding sweets, the two time-honored ways of preventing dental cavities, may be joined by a more enduring anti-tooth-decay method. In the first long-term assessment of the technique, a Georgia researcher found that "after a single application of a chemical sealant to selected teeth in nearly 400 schoolchildren, 68 per-cent of the treated teeth were still protected six years later."

The sealant is a special resin that bonds with tooth enamel. The researcher, James E. Williams, said that the substance prevents decay by forming an invisible barrier to decay-causing agents. The resin is clear, but some dentists may add a slight tint, the better to observe how well it sticks to the teeth. The application process takes only a few minutes and is painless.

Dr. Williams, however, who chairs the department of community dentistry at the Medical College of Georgia's dental school, cautioned that sealing is no substitute for proper oral hygiene--just another method of preventing decay.

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