What are fissure sealants?
These are resin coatings placed on teeth to protect them from decay.
Why use sealants?
Tooth surfaces are not smooth. In particular, the biting surface (occlusal), and those surfaces adjacent to the cheek (buccal) and tongue (lingual) exhibit developmental pits and fissures. These can be difficult to keep clean and retained plaque can lead to decay which will require removal and filling.
This decay accounts for more than 50% of the decay treated by dentists. The use of sealants has been shown to significantly reduce the prevalence of this decay. An unsealed tooth is three times more likely to develop pit and fissure decay than a sealed tooth.
When should teeth be sealed?
Ideally, deep pits and fissures should be sealed soon after the teeth have erupted in the mouth. This is when they are most susceptible to decay. Practically, the need for sealants is made on an individual basis, depending on the depth of the pits and fissures, their cleansability, and the patient’s decay susceptibility.
Although all molars and premolars develop pits and fissures, the molars are particularly susceptible to decay and sealants are more commonly recommended for them only.
How are they placed?
The teeth are cleaned, conditioned and dried. A special low-viscosity resin is flowed in the susceptible pits and fissures and cured with a bright light. No local anaesthetic is necessary and no cavity preparation is required in most cases.
Fissure sealants should last at least three years. They should be checked at yearly recall visits and may be repaired or extended in a manner similar to their initial placement.