What are tooth fissures?
Deep pits and grooves on the surfaces of the back teeth (usually on the molars) are known as fissures. As they are very narrow it is difficult to clean them with a toothbrush and toothpaste alone as the bristles are too thick and do not reach down into the fissure. Every time you eat or drink bacteria can enter the fissures, gradually making them wider and deeper overtime and eventually resulting in tooth decay.
Tooth fissures are common in children and teenagers and will often cause cavities – normally in the back teeth. Fissure sealants are an effective way of helping to protect young teeth and they can also provide protection for permanent molars and pre-molars once they have erupted and are mature enough for application.
A dentist will often recommend a fissure sealant for adults who are at a high risk of developing cavities as a result of tooth fissures.
What is a fissure sealant?
A fissure sealant is defined as a ‘preventative dental treatment’. Effectively, a clear, plastic material is placed onto the surface of your teeth to help protect it and prevent the bacteria from entering the fissures. Sealants are most commonly applied to the molars and pre-molars.
Sealants can be applied to any tooth with pits or fissures, provided the surface is sound and it has no previous fillings.
How is the sealant applied?
It is quick, easy and comfortable to apply a fissure sealant. There is no need for an anaesthetic, drills or needles. Your tooth and fissures will be prepared and cleaned before the sealant is applied. Following application the sealant will be hardened under a special UV light- forming a protective coating over the tooth. Fissure sealants can be applied either by a dentist or dental hygienist.
When should I have a fissure sealant applied?
It is recommended that the sealant is applied as early as possible after the adult teeth have erupted as this offers the best chance of success. It is important to ensure that your tooth enamel is fully matured before applying any sealant. Your dentist can advise you depending on your risks and the condition of your teeth.
How successful are sealants?
It is widely agreed that sealants are highly effective in helping to prevent decay in fissures. Just like a normal filling, a fissure sealant can last for many years with the correct maintenance and care.
If the sealant becomes damaged or falls out it can be easily replaced. Regular dental and hygienist checks are important in order to maintain the condition of your sealants and pick up any problems early