Fissure sealants are a protective plastic coating, which your dentist applies to the chewing surfaces and sides of teeth at risk of decay. The chewing surfaces of back teeth have small grooves or fissures, which often extend right down into the tooth itself.
However well the teeth are brushed, these fissures are very difficult to clean thoroughly. Bacteria and food particles stick in them and eventually cause decay. Even fluoride in drinking water or toothpaste, which helps protect the smooth sides of the teeth, can't fully protect these high - risk areas against decay. Fissure sealants completely seal off these grooves, preventing any food particles or bacteria from getting in, and avoid having any of the tooth removed and a filling placed.
How is the treatment done?
First the fissure is checked for decay. Then the process simply involves cleaning the tooth surface, preparing it with a special solution, applying the coating and setting it in place with a curing light. The new smooth surface is now easy to keep clean and healthy with a toothbrush. Fissure sealants do not affect the normal chewing function of teeth.
Will it hurt?
No injections or drilling are needed, and the entire process is pain free. When should it be done? It's best to get the permanent back molar teeth sealed as soon as they start to come through. This is usually between 6 and 7 years of age. The rest are usually sealed as soon as they appear, which can be any time between 11 and 14 years of age.
Do the teeth need special care afterwards?
No special care is needed, but the back teeth still need to be brushed regularly with a good toothbrush, preferably using fluoride toothpaste. It's also important to keep going to your dentist for regular check-ups because other teeth might need attention.