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Get your grooves sealed! What are fissure sealants?

April 4, 2017

Although millennium children and adolescents have healthier teeth than in the past, tooth decay is still a problem. Many of the foods that we eat contain sugars. When these foods are left on the teeth, plaque (the sticky substance that forms on teeth) combines with the bacteria that live in the mouth. This combination produces acids that damage the tooth enamel causing tooth decay. The majority of decay in children and adolescents occurs on the biting surfaces of the back teeth. The preventive treatment options for tooth decay include tooth brushing with fluoride toothpaste at home, topical fluoride applications and dental fissure sealants offered by the dentist.


What are fissures?

The chewing surfaces of the back teeth have tiny fissures (grooves) on them. However, plaque and sugar can get trapped in them and this can lead to tooth decay.


Why isn’t brushing enough?

The tooth fissures are too narrow for the toothbrush to clean them – even the finest toothbrush bristle can be too big!

What are fissure sealants?

Fissure sealants are a safe way of protecting your children’s teeth from tooth decay.  The sealant is a plastic coating which covers the chewing surfaces of the back, adult teeth. The sealant forms a hard layer that keeps food and bacteria from getting into the tiny grooves of the teeth. Fissure sealants are placed when the back adult teeth are fully erupted. The first molars usually erupt at the age of 6 years old. 

How are fissure sealants applied?

The back teeth are cleaned (washed), then the sealant liquid is painted onto the surface with a small brush, a special light is then used to set the sealant. The process is painless and takes only a few minutes.

How long do fissure sealants last?

They can last for many years and we check them at each visit. They can wear over time and they can be added to or replaced if necessary.

How effective are they in preventing tooth decay?

The evidence shows that sealing the biting surfaces of permanent molars in children and adolescents reduces the caries (tooth decay) up to 48 months when compared to no sealant application. The Cochrane Collaboration  reviewed all the clinical trials on fissure sealants and suggested that the studies showed that if 40% of back teeth develop decay over a 2-year period, then the sealant reduces this to 6%. Whilst in another group of children where 70% of these back teeth would develop decay over a 2-year period, using sealants reduces this to 19%.

Stages of the fissure sealant application.


How can we help?

At Dee Shapland Dental we believe that prevention is better than treatment. We offer the following preventative services to help you to achieve a heathy smile for your kids and yourself:


This Blog has been written by Anastasios Plessas, Associate Dentist


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