Teeth can have tiny grooves called fissures. These fissures can make it difficult to throughly clean teeth. The grooves can be smaller that the bristles of a tooth brush so food and bacteria can grow inside these grooves and cause a dental cavity.
Dental sealants are coatings applied to teeth that are at risk of decay. The coating prevents tooth decay by stopping food and bacteria getting into tiny grooves or fissures in the chewing surface of teeth.
It is common for the back permanent molars to be fissure sealed as these are the teeth that are more prone to dental decay.
First permanent molars come through at about six or seven years of age and the second molars about age 11 or 12 years. As the molars come through, they are at greater risk of tooth decay. Therefore it is a good idea to have your child’s molars checked at around this age to see if sealants might be useful.
Fissure seals are not painful and the simple procedure not need a drill or injection to be applied. The teeth are cleaned and dried by your dentist and then the sealant is applied. A special light is then used to harden the seal on your teeth.
Fissure seals lasts in general around 5 years and can help young children prevent dental decay in back teeth.
If your teeth are fissure sealed you still need to brush your teeth properly twice daily. Avoid a diet high in sugary food or drinks can also reduce the acid attack on your teeth that occurs afterwards.