Fissure Sealants – Preventing Decay

What Are Fissure Sealants?

Fissure sealants are coatings that cover the fissures (grooves and pits) of children’s teeth to prevent tooth decay.  They are placed on the biting surface of the teeth to protect the fissures which are prone to decay.  These fissures are so small that food and bacteria can easily get trapped in them, but the bristles of a toothbrush are too large to properly clean them.  Fissure sealants, also called pit and fissure sealants, are different from fillings as they are preventative and are not used to treat existing decay.  They are placed on molar teeth soon after they grow into the mouth and before they have had a chance to develop and decay.  Permanent molars begin to erupt at around 6 years of age and this is a good time to visit your dentist to ask if they are recommended for your child.

What’s The Procedure For Placing Fissure Sealants?

Placing fissure sealants is a simple pain-free procedure that can be done by your dentist or hygienist and does not require any anesthetic.  The teeth will need to clean, etched, and then dried.  The liquid coating will then be painted on the teeth and set with light until it is hard.  It will take less than 5 minutes per tooth to place the fissure sealants.  Following this procedure, you are able to eat and drink straight away as the sealants will be completely set.  Fissure sealants are usually white in color which blends in well with the teeth and can’t be seen when talking.

How Long Do Fissure Sealants Last?

Fissure sealants can last for 5 to 10 years and will be checked regularly by your dentist when you go in for check-up appointments.  They are sometimes replaced if they fall out or become worn down over time, but replacement is not always required.  This is because teeth are most prone to decay when they first erupt and after a number of years they are strong enough to avoid becoming decayed.