If you look at the chewing surfaces of your back teeth, you might just find that there are tiny grooves and lines all over the chewing surface of your teeth. For some people, these lines are deep and narrow, making them difficult to keep clean with a toothbrush. Over time, these grooves can be more susceptible to decay, leading to irreversible damage to your teeth.
Fissure sealants are plastic resin coatings that fill in the grooves and pits of your teeth, protecting them from dental plaque and acid damage.
The best time to assess whether your child needs fissure sealants is soon after their permanent teeth appear, around the age of 6 or 7. It is usual to wait until a tooth is fully erupted before applying a fissure sealant. However, your dentist may suggest sealant partially erupted teeth if early signs of decay are present. Fissures sealants can be applied to baby teeth if your dentist thinks it is beneficial. It can also be used to help prevent dental decay in adults.
Fissure sealant application is a simple process that may be performed by your dentist or by a dental therapist or a dental hygienist.
The general procedure of a fissure sealant is painless and non-invasive, with a coat of the resin sealant applied to a thoroughly cleaned tooth. The resin liquid sets in less than a minute and forms a physical barrier that stops food, bacteria and acids from contacting the tooth surfaces. Sealants are typically white, clear or tinted. No dental injection is required, and minimal discomfort or pain is present. Children often respond very positively to have their teeth coated with “magic power” to make them super strong!
Many studies have shown that fissure sealants are effective in reducing the occurrence of dental decay. On a tooth with completely sealed fissures, protection is 100 percent. As the fissure sealants wear down, protection is reduced. For this reason, your dentist will examine your teeth during recall appointments and inform you if any fissure sealants need to be reapplied.
Although fissure sealant protects the biting surfaces of the tooth, untreated surfaces and other teeth are still at risk. It is important to brush and floss your teeth twice a day with a suitable fluoride toothpaste, as well as to watch for sugars in your diet.
If you are not sure whether you or your child will require fissure sealants, or simply want to double-check that your fissure sealants are doing their jobs, book in for a dental examination today!