What is a fissure sealant?
You may have heard your dentist talk about them before. They are in fact a very common protective procedure for teeth!
Fissure sealants are hard protective coatings of white filling material applied to the chewing surfaces of the molar and premolar teeth. They are applied in order to cover and protect the deep grooves (fissures) of the tooth from dental decay.
‘Sealing up the fissures/grooves’ of the teeth prevents food, plaque, sugar and decay from sitting in the fissures all day long between brushing.
Unsealed tooth, prior to cleaning of fissure:
Cleaned and sealed fissure:
Why are the fissures at high risk of decay?
The fissures of the teeth are at high risk for decay as they can be deep and narrow, collecting plaque bacteria and food that cannot be accessed by toothbrush bristles. The build-up of plaque trapped in the fissures produce acids that can go on to cause decay. Therefore, when these grooves are sealed, the risk of decay can be dramatically decreased, especially in children’s teeth.
Why are fissure seals so commonly recommended for children?
According to the Australian Dental Association, fissures are five times more likely to develop decay than any other tooth surface. When the first permanent molar teeth erupt into the mouth when a child is around 6 years old, it is the best time to apply fissure sealants as the permanent teeth play an important role throughout adult life. Children often do not know there is a ‘6-year old molar’ at the back of their mouths, and often do not clean this tooth well. It is also said children do not develop the manual dexterity to brush their own teeth effectively until they are around 8 to 10 years old, hence why fissure sealants are recommended for some children as soon as their permanent teeth come through.
All this said, fissure sealants can be placed at any age!
How is it done?
The treatment itself is a painless and conservative procedure where there are no injections numbing required. The material used to seal the fissures is called flowable white resin and it is completely safe, as are all white dental fillings. All of the materials we use have passed the Australian FDA standards and are sourced from Australian suppliers.
The procedure for fissure sealants is very easy, first the tooth is thoroughly cleaned and the area is kept dry, the tooth is then prepared with a preparation and cleaning agent to ensure the sealants adhere well to the tooth. The sealant is then applied in liquid form. A blue dental light may be used to set the material. The tooth will then be checked and is smoothed if necessary. The patient can eat and drink as normal immediately after the procedure.
How long do they last?
Fissure sealants may need reapplying as time goes on because they are placed in high stress areas such as the chewing surfaces. As with most white fillings, fissure sealants rely on adhesion to the tooth, and the longevity is dependent on the strength of the bond. With proper care, you can expect fissure sealants to last at least 4-5 years, sometimes even longer! However, if you are a teeth grinder or you clench your teeth, expect a fissure seal to last 2-3 years.
How do you care for a fissure seal?
Once completed, the fissure sealants do not need any special care. Your teeth will still need to be brushed twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste and flossed, and you will need to continue your regular 6 month check ups with your dentist.
As we say at Gateway Dental Health, prevention and protection is much better (and cheaper!) then finding a solution to a problem that could have been easily prevented.
"A fissure seal is better than a filling, a small filling is better than a large filling, and a large filling is better than a root canal!"
If you have any questions, please call us on (07) 3493 0028 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Take care and we hope to see you smiling soon!
Dr Richard Chee and the team @ Gateway Dental Health