Pit and Fissure Sealant

"Prevention is better than cure," and it has never been truer than in dental health. Avoiding damage to your teeth through sound oral care beats trying to fix problems after they arise. Pit and fissure sealants, for example, are one of several methods for saving teeth from dental caries.

Sealants are a safe and painless way of protecting teeth from decay. A sealant is a protective plastic coating, which is applied to the biting surfaces of the back teeth. The sealant forms a hard shield that keeps food and bacteria from getting into the tiny grooves in the teeth and causing decay.

Sealants are only applied to the back teeth - the molars and premolars. These are the teeth that have ‘pits' (small hollows) and ‘fissures' (grooves) on their biting surfaces. Some teeth naturally have deep grooves which will need to be sealed; others have shallow ones which will not need sealing.

Even though pits and fissures do occur naturally, they can deepen over time, leading to dental caries, so a child whose teeth show signs of pits and fissures may be a prime candidate for dental sealants. In both cases, these areas can easily fill with bacteria, which may be difficult to remove with regular tooth brushing, as the bristles on toothbrush are often not able to get to the deepest part of these grooves.

As this bacteria grows, it interacts with the sugar in the food, turning them into acids that can eat away at tooth enamel. If this process causes enough decay, it eventually spreads to the inner pulp of the tooth. This can result in extremely painful condition, which require root canal treatment and sometimes tooth extraction in bad situation.

Pit and fissure sealants are designed specifically for three preventive purposes
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 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

Procedure for pit and fissure sealants
The process is usually quick and straightforward, taking only a few minutes for each tooth. No drilling or anesthesia is required. The tooth is thoroughly cleaned, prepared with a special solution, and dried. The sealant is applied similar to the application of nail polish and is cured or set with ultraviolet composite curing light. Your child’s bite will be verified and the sealant may be polished for comfort. It is totally pain free, and the teeth do not feel any different afterwards.

It is recommended that children get their pit and fissures sealed after their first permanent teeth erupt. This is usually between 6 and 7 years of age. The rest of the teeth which usually erupt between 11 to 14 years of age are sealed as and when they erupt.

Sealants reduce the risk of decay when they are applied in conjunction with effective brushing and regular dental visits. Sealants do not prevent decay on the sides of teeth or between teeth.

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