Tooth decay is a common dental disease caused by harmful bacteria in the mouth eroding the tough outer layer of tooth enamel that normally protects your teeth and creating tiny holes or lesions in tooth surfaces. These holes allow bacteria to enter the tooth, where they can destroy the inner portion of the tooth called dentine. The chewing surfaces of back teeth, your molars, and premolars are especially vulnerable to tooth decay because these surfaces have many grooves and fissures that can trap food and bacteria. Some of these grooves and fissures are deep and tricky to clean adequately with a toothbrush. Fissure sealants are a preventive dental treatment specifically designed to protect the chewing surfaces of back teeth against cavities.
Fissure sealants are a layer of durable plastic material that we paint onto clean tooth surfaces. The material is flowable getting into all the intricate grooves and fissures in the tooth and sealing them before it hardens. The fissure sealants are very thin, so they do not interfere with the bite and once in place are virtually invisible. Once in place, fissure sealants are tough enough to last for several years before they need replacing.
Usually, we recommend applying fissure sealants to children’s newly erupted adult back teeth as this treatment is only suitable for teeth that do not have visible cavities or fillings. You may be suitable for fissure sealants if your back teeth are strong and healthy and are free from fillings or cavities. A dental examination determines if this treatment is appropriate for your needs. Occasionally it might be possible to treat teeth that only have very early signs of decay, sealing in the bacteria causing the infection and preventing the decay from worsening, but this is rare.
Treatment is quick, painless, and non-invasive. Your teeth are thoroughly cleaned before we prepare the tooth surfaces with a special etching liquid that increases the bond between your tooth and the sealant material. After removing the etching liquid, your teeth are dried, and we can paint on the sealant. The fissure sealant soon hardens, or we may accelerate this process using blue light. Afterward, you can eat and drink normally, and you shouldn’t notice any real difference to the teeth that are treated. We will check the condition of your fissure sealants during your regular dental examinations to ensure they are still protecting your teeth.