What is a fissure?
The pits and fissures on the back teeth are sealed with a glass/plastic composite. This is done by etching and drying the tooth and then painting the sealant into the cracks on the biting surface of the tooth. The resin is set with a light. The process is simple, quick and painless.
Why fissure seal?
The most common place for decay to start is in the pits and fissures of the molar and premolar teeth. Once cavities have formed, some tooth has to be removed to allow a good filling. This weakens the tooth further and starts the mouth on a downward spiral of breakdown. Tooth brushing and fluoride are less effective against decay in the fissures than in other parts of the tooth.
In these regions the most effective prevention is fissure sealing. Fissure sealing is an effective way of preventing a lifetime of fillings in the teeth. Maintenance of fissure sealants is very simple and usually involves recoating of the tooth.
When should you fissure seal?
Fissure sealing is often done soon after the teeth first come through – before they have had a chance to decay. The first molar teeth come through at about the age of six and these teeth are important because they are in the mouth longer than the other teeth. The second molar and the premolars come through at about twelve years of age and these teeth can be sealed too. However, teeth can and should be sealed at any age if they are showing signs that the fissures are becoming stained or beginning to break down.
Teeth that may have some very early decay can be sealed. The bacteria that cause decay need food to live and by sealing off their food source, the bacteria die. The pits become sterile in this way and the decay is arrested. In these teeth it is often a good idea to remove some of the softened enamel before sealing.