Sealants are a protective plastic coating, which is applied to the chewing surfaces and sides of teeth at risk of decay. Sealants can protect your children’s back teeth, so that they may never need to have a filling! They are a protective plastic coating, which are applied to the chewing surfaces 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 to them and eventually cause decay. Fissure sealants completely seal off these grooves, preventing any food particles or bacteria from getting in. They do not affect the normal chewing function of teeth. Fissure Sealants are a cost-effective, minimally invasive treatment to protect teeth form dental decay.
The diagnosis of fissure decay can be a challenge. Due to variations in the enamel thickness in the undulating tooth surface, dental x-rays are not a reliable means of assessing tooth surfaces for Pit and Fissure decay. In some cases the fissure retain food stains, without actually decaying, In line with our philosophy of Minimally Invasive Dentistry we use a number of techniques to determine if the decay has started in the fissures before we apply the fissure sealant.
After cleaning the tooth surface we use decay detecting dye, and Diagnodent Laser fluorescent decay testing, to check the fissures for decay. If decay is detected the tooth may require a composite resin filling rather than a fissure sealant.
Prior to placing the sealant Air Abrasion is used to prepare the enamel surface for application of the resin sealant.
To protect the dental fissures from decay we recommend to seal the cleaned fissures with a long lasting, flowable resin sealant to provide a new smooth surface which is easy to keep clean and healthy with a toothbrush.
No injection or drilling is needed the entire process is pain free.
It’s best to get advice from your dentist or dental therapist if your child would benefit from fissure sealing the permanent back molar teeth
How is it done?
First the fissure is checked for decay. Then the process simply involves cleaning the tooth surface, preparing it with a special solution, and then applying the coating. No injections or drilling are needed, and the entire process is pain free.
When should it be done?
The first permanent back molars are usually sealed between 6 and 7 years of age. If required the rest of the molars are usually sealed as soon as they appear which can be any time between 11 and 14 years.
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 or dental therapist for regular check-ups because other teeth might need attention.
When should it be done?
For best results the permanent back molar teeth should be sealed as soon as they start to come through. This is usually between 6-7 years of age. The remaining molar and premolar teeth should be sealed as soon as they appear - which is usually up to about age 14 years.
The fissures on the back of the upper incisor teeth may also benefit from placement of resin fissure sealants after they erupt into the mouth.
In some cases adults present with unsealed teeth which are difficult to protect from plaque adhesion. Fissure Sealants provide protection from plaque adhesion for adults and children alike. Dr Carolyn Langrell-Read will be happy to discuss if Fissure Sealants are right for you.
How long do Fissure Sealants Last?
No special care is needed to maintain the fissure sealants but you still need to brush the tooth and ideally use a fluoride toothpaste.
Fissure Sealants can last many years but your dentist will need to check them regularly to ensure the seal is still intact.
It is normal that they wear over time and sometimes it is necessary to add to or replace some of the resin sealant to be sure the tooth remains sealed to prevent decay from starting under the sealant.