An introduction to fissure sealants

The crinkles and dips in the tooth structure are called pits and fissures. Pits and fissures create hiding places for plaque bacteria, called stagnation areas, these bacteria feed on a sugary diet which in turn leads to tooth decay.

In many patients, the pits and fissures in the tooth surface can be very deep, which is difficult to clean with normal toothbrushing. If a child has a history of tooth decay, or their siblings have a vast decay pattern, your dentist may advise for a fissure sealant to be placed in these pits or fissures.

This is purely a preventative measure, which enables a smooth surface for the patient to clean effectively and a reduction in the need for pit and fissure restorations (fillings). It is usually placed in the pits and fissures of back teeth, where brushing is difficult.

What are fissure sealants?

Fissure sealants are plastic coatings placed on the chewing surfaces of molar teeth usually in children. These coatings help protect the chewing surfaces of back teeth, these are sometimes needed when children cannot brush the back teeth properly and food and bacteria are left on the tooth which can lead to tooth decay. The chewing surfaces of molar teeth have pits and fissures which are sometimes difficult to clean effectively, so by placing a coating we can protect the tooth by forming a barrier to prevent sugar and acid attack.​

Your dentist will check which teeth need fissure sealing as teeth that have shallow pits and fissures do not need them as they can be cleaned effectively. Your dentist will thoroughly clean the chewing surface of the tooth before applying a special solution to help the sealant bond to the tooth, which will then be washed and dried. The sealant will then be placed on the tooth filling the pits and fissures and the sealant will then be set hard by a bright light.

Fissure sealants can also be used to treat adults with teeth that are hard to keep clean.

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