Pit and Fissure sealants

Your tooth has various changes in their shape, based upon the use of the biting surface. These shape alterations are seen on biting surfaces of teeth and are similar to deep groove and are known as pits and fissures. These areas are prone to food lodgement. Pit and fissure sealants are a protective coating, which when applied to the biting surfaces of the back teeth forms a hard shield that keeps food and bacteria from getting into the tiny grooves in the teeth. Decay easily starts in these grooves if they are not sealed.

Sealants are only applied to the back teeth. This is because these are the teeth that have ‘pits' (small hollows) and ‘fissures' (grooves) on their biting surfaces where food is most prone to get stuck, acting as a site for bacterial attack. Your dentist will tell you which teeth should be sealed after they have examined them. Not all back teeth need sealants, as some teeth naturally have shallow ones which will not need sealing; where as others have deep grooves which will need to be sealed.

Sealants have the best effect when applied as soon as the first permanent tooth is fully erupted. This is because newly erupted teeth are the most prone to decay. 8 and 9 years of age is considered as the best time. The rest are usually sealed as soon as they appear which can be any time between 11 and 14 years of age.

The process is usually quick and straightforward, taking only a few minutes for each tooth. The tooth is thoroughly cleaned, prepared with a special solution, and dried. The liquid sealant is then applied and allowed to set hard - usually by shining a bright light onto it. It is totally pain free, and the teeth do not feel any different afterwards.

Sealants usually last for many years, often the duration depends upon your biting forces and food habits. Have a regular check up with your dentist to make sure that the seal is still intact. They can wear over time, and sometimes the dentist may need to add or replace some sealant to be sure that no decay can start underneath it.

Yes you should! It is still very important to do this. The smooth, sealed surface is now much easier to keep clean with normal brushing. Using fluoride toothpaste, last thing at night and at least one other time during the day, will help to protect your teeth. Pit and fissure sealing reduces tooth decay and the number of fillings you might need provided you maintain a good oral hygiene.

Last updated on 30 November, 2018.

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