Sealants can be applied to any tooth with pits or fissures, provided the surface is sound and there are no previous fillings. They are most commonly used on the molars and premolars.
Deep pits and grooves on the surfaces of the back teeth (usually found on the molars) are known as fissures. As they are very narrow it can be difficult to clean them with a toothbrush and toothpaste alone, as the bristles are too thick and do not reach down into the fissure.
Every time you eat or drink, bacteria can enter these fissures, gradually making them wider and deeper over time. This eventually results in tooth decay.
Tooth fissures are common in children and teenagers and will often cause cavities, normally in the back teeth.
Fissure sealants are an effective way of helping to protect young teeth. They can also provide protection for permanent molars and premolars once they have erupted and are mature enough for treatment.
Your dentist will often recommend a fissure sealant for adults who are at high risk of developing cavities due to tooth fissures.
It is quick, easy and comfortable to apply a fissure sealant. There is no need for any anesthetic, drills or needles. They can be applied by a dentist or dental hygienist.
Your tooth and fissures will be prepared and cleaned before the sealant is applied. It will be hardened under a special UV light, forming a protective coating over the tooth.
It is recommended that the sealant is applied as early as possible after the adult teeth have erupted, as this offers the best chance of success. It is important to ensure that the tooth enamel is fully matured before applying any sealant.
Your dentist will be able to advise you on the best time for you, depending on your individual risks and the condition of your teeth.
It is widely agreed that sealants are highly effective in helping to prevent decay in the fissures. Just like a normal filling, a fissure sealant can last for many years with the correct maintenance and care. If it is damaged or falls out, it can be easily replaced.
Regular dental and hygiene checks are important in order to maintain the condition of the fissure sealants and spot any problems early.
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