Deep pits and grooves can be found on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. Such pits and grooves are termed ‘fissures’ and are usually so narrow that toothbrush bristles and streams of water are not able to clean them effectively. Fissure sealants can be applied to the teeth.
Fissure sealants are special materials used by dentists to seal off pits and fissures from the oral environment. Sealing the tooth surface protects fissures from bacteria and fermentable foods like sugar and starches to prevent decay from starting deep within the fissures.
This preventive treatment is normally given to children whose permanent teeth are starting to emerge, usually between six and seven years. The application process is quick and easy, and there is no need for anaesthetic or drilling.
What does the treatment involve?
- The tooth is polished to remove plaque and food debris from the fissure surfaces.
- The surface of the tooth is etched with a special solution.
- After rinsing off this solution and drying the tooth, the sealant is applied with a brush.
- A curing light is used so the sealant will harden and quickly bond with the surface, forming a tough coating
Looking after your protected teeth
To ensure sealants offer the best protection, it is important they are used in conjunction with a comprehensive dental care routine that includes effective brushing, flossing and a healthy diet. However, treated teeth will have smoother surfaces, so they will be much easier to keep clean.
Sealants can last for many years, but regular check-ups are necessary to ensure they continue to remain intact.
Frequently Asked Question
Fissure sealants are very effective at helping to prevent decay, and can last for a long time. It is also important to attend regular dental check ups.
You can expect a fissure sealant to last for many years before needing to be replaced. On average, they last up to six years.
Fissure sealants are usually white or clear, so won’t be noticeable in the mouth.