Dental fissure sealants (also known as fissure sealants) are defined as a preventative dental treatment, where a clear material is flowed in the pits and fissures (grooves) or chewing surfaces of permanent molar & premolar teeth at the back of the mouth.
Why do we recommend them?
Most adult molars (mainly the 6 year old and 12 year old molars) erupt with very deep grooves in the chewing surfaces. The grooves (called pits & fissures) are able to trap and harbour bacteria easily. It is very difficult to clean these areas when we brush our teeth. Most fissure sealant materials are fluoride releasing as well, which adds even more protection for the tooth surface.
Are the invasive? Do they hurt?
Fissure sealants are a very conservative minimally invasive treatment. We do not drill away any tooth. We do not need to give local anaesthetic. We use a special etch to wash the teeth and grooves and then flow a clear resin varnish over the grooves to protect them from bacteria and furthermore decay. This resin material is set hard with our high intensity blue light and the patient is able to eat on them and carry on as normal straight away.
When should they be done?
Fissure sealants are best done when the tooth is newly erupted (usually when children are age 6 & 7 and then again at age 12 & 13) when we know that there is little bacteria in the grooves already. Doing them at a later stage after the tooth has erupted for some time is unfavourable. we can risk trapping bacteria in the grooves under the seal and this can cause decay to form.