Molar teeth or ‘chewing teeth’ have numerous pits and fissures on their biting surface which allows your upper and lower teeth to interlock and chew food. In these grooves, however, food and bacteria become embedded and remain there for long periods of time. While brushing and flossing removes plaque and particles from smooth surfaces, these methods are unable to thoroughly reach the deep depressions and grooves on teeth. The result of this is that carries frequently develops on these areas of a tooth and this often occurs soon after eruption. As much as 90% of cavities in school-aged children occur in the pits and fissures of back teeth. Sealants are thin layers of filling material that are applied to the chewing surfaces of teeth to help avoid the stagnation of food and bacteria in these areas. By placing sealants soon after eruption of a tooth, they help save time and money in the long run by reducing the need for fillings or crowns.
How are sealant placed?
Sealant placement is usually a quick procedure and normally does not require any anesthetic. The teeth that are going to be sealed are first cleaned and sometimes a drill is used to open the grooves slightly to allow for the addition of the sealant. Once it is confirmed that there is no decay present, the surface of the tooth is roughed in order to create more retention. The sealant is then applied to the tooth where it bonds and hardens. This procedure is painless and can take between 5 to 30 minutes depending on how many teeth are being sealed.
When should sealants be placed?
Newly erupted, permanent teeth, receive the greatest benefit from sealants therefore we recommend that sealant placement should start from when the first permanent molar erupts (at about 6 years of age) and then soon after each pre molar and molar erupts.
Are sealants placed on baby teeth?
Generally, sealants are not applied to primary teeth but in certain cases where a child displays a high caries incidence, they may be beneficial.
Are sealants only for children?
Children receive the most benefit from sealants but sealants can also protect adult teeth. Your dentist will typically do an assessment to determine if they are necessary. With the appropriate follow up care and good oral hygiene, sealants have been proven to be effective in reducing cavity development and thus reducing the need for extensive dental treatment later on.
Call or email us to book an appointment to assess your child or yourself for fissure sealants.