What are fissure sealants?
Sealants are a safe and painless way of protecting your children’s teeth from decay. A sealant is a plastic coating, which is applied to the biting surfaces of the back teeth. The sealant forms a hard shield, keeping food and bacteria from getting into the tiny grooves in the teeth.
How do they work?
The sealant forms a smooth, protective barrier by covering all the little grooves and dips in the surface of the tooth, where decay usually starts.
The process is usually straightforward, taking only a few minutes per tooth. The tooth is thoroughly cleaned, prepared with a special solution and dried. The liquid sealant is then applied and allowed to set hard by shining an ultraviolet light onto it.
How long does a fissure sealant last?
Sealants usually last for many years, but your dentist will want to check them regularly to make sure that the seal’s still intact. They can wear over time, and sometimes the dentist needs to add or replace some sealant to be sure that no decay can start underneath them.
Which teeth should be sealed?
Sealants are only applied to the molars and premolars. These are the back teeth that have pits and fissures on their biting surfaces. Your dentist will tell you which teeth should be sealed after they’ve examined them, and checked whether the fissures are deep enough for sealing to help. Some teeth naturally form with deep grooves, which will need to be sealed. Others with shallow grooves may not need sealing.
Will my child feel any pain?
No, it’s totally pain-free, and the teeth do not feel any different afterwards.
When should this be done?
Sealants are often applied as soon as the permanent teeth start to come through. This is usually between 6 and 7 years of age. The rest are usually sealed as soon as they appear, which can be any time between 11 and 14 years of age.