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Pit and fissure sealants

What are fissure sealants?

A fissure sealant is a material that essentially covers the grooves of teeth. Protecting deep grooves reduces the chance of tooth decay on the top of your teeth. These grooves are known as “pits” and “fissures“. A pit is a small depression on the surface of the tooth, whereas fissures are the grooves that naturally occur on all biting surfaces of teeth. Most of the time, the teeth at the back (the premolars and molars) have the most grooves, however the teeth at the front (incisors and canines) can also have pits and fissures. These pit and fissures can be deep or shallow.

Pits and fissures on the surface of the tooth are ideal in harbouring dental plaque and calculus, which contain bacteria. This area of plaque and calculus is often very difficult to clean, as the bristles on your toothbrush are often not able to get to the deepest part of these grooves. If the groves are not cleaned properly, decay will start on the top of the tooth, and the tooth will sometimes need a filling.

Why Dental Fillings Are Important

Patients often experience tooth decay because of inappropriate nutritional habits, poor oral care at home or genetics leading to many cavities. Before creating a treatment plan, the dental professional will extensively review the patient’s medical history and their daily routine in efforts to detect any underlying issues such as medical ailments that may be the reason for exaggerated decay formation. According to collected information, a proper course of treatment is chosen including suitable dental materials most beneficial to the individual needs of each patient.

Fluoride, in your toothpaste and in your water, is very effective in protecting against decay; however, its effect is minimal on the biting surface of teeth. Much of the decay encountered by school-aged children occurs in these pits and fissures, thus it is important to have a preventive agent to protect against decay. An American survey showed that up to 84% of the decay encountered in school-aged children is in these pits and fissures

Why are sealants used?

Pit and fissure sealants were designed specifically for three preventive effects:

  • Sealants occupy the pits and fissures of teeth with a resin material
  • As the pits and fissures are filled up, bacteria are not able to go deep into grooves, and this causes less “bad’ bacteria to be present on the tooth; teeth with fissure sealants are 22 times less likely to develop decay than those that have not been filled.
  • Sealants render the pits and fissures easier to clean during brushing and chewing, as food particles do not get trapped as easily when you have deep fissures.