Q. What are fissures?
Fissures are the grooves that naturally occur on the tooth’s chewing surfaces. When these fissures are very deep and narrow, the toothbrush’s bristles cannot fit inside to clean properly, which can leave trapped food. This attracts bacteria to form. The plaque acids eat into the tooth enamel and cause decay. The fissures are five times more likely to cause decay than other tooth surfaces.
Q. What are fissure sealants?
Fissure sealants form a physical barrier that fills these deep and narrow fissures hence stops food, bacteria and plaque acids from contacting the tooth surface and are therefore effective in reducing the occurrence of tooth decay. It is a painless and non-invasive treatment which is therefore well accepted by children.
Q. When is the best time to get tooth sealants done?
The best time to apply fissure sealants is immediately after the permanent adult teeth erupt during childhood. The first permanent molars appear around the age of 6 or 7 years. The rest are usually sealed as soon as they appear which can be any time between 11 and 14 years of age. Sometimes it is also necessary to do fissure sealants on the baby molars as well.
Q. So what is involved?
The process is usually quick and straightforward, taking only a few minutes for each tooth.
- The tooth is thoroughly cleaned and dried, because food debris and saliva can prevent the sealant from sticking correctly to the tooth.
- The tooth surface is coated with a weak acid gel called ‘etch’. This step ensures that the sealant sticks to the tooth surface.
- The etch is washed away and the tooth is dried
- An adhesive resin may be applied under the sealant
- The liquid sealant is applied
- A curing light is used to activate bonding and to quickly set the sealant to form a durable coating on the tooth’s surface. Some sealants release fluoride to further strengthen the tooth
- Your bite will be checked to ensure that it is correct and comfortable.
Q. So the sealants are done, what do I need to do now?
It is always recommended to have regular check-ups every 6 to 12 months so that tooth decay or sealant loss can be detected and treated. A fissure sealant can easily be replaced if partially or completely lost due to normal wear and tear.
Although the fissure sealant protects the chewing surface of the treated tooth from decay, untreated surfaces and other teeth are still at risk. It is important to regularly brush and floss your teeth and now that the sealants have been placed they will be much easier to keep clean and healthy!
Note: The aim of this general information is to educate the reader about Fissure Sealants and may not essentially contain all aspects of the treatment. It would be beneficial to see us for a consultation to discuss the procedure and all of the associated complications.
Give us a call on (03) 5821 2388 to book an appointment and our dentist will be more than happy to answer all of your concerns.