What are Pit and Fissure Sealants?
Sealants are a safe and painless way of protecting your child?s teeth from decay. A sealant is a protective plastic /composite 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
How do Sealants Prevent Decay?
Sealant material bonds to the chewing surface of the back teeth forming a protective barrier covering the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the chewing surface. Decay-causing bacteria normally reside in these grooves and are difficult to remove with even the best of tooth brushing habits. By sealing the grooves, bacteria are not present in this susceptible area and henceprevent decay.
Which teeth should be sealed?
Sealants are only applied to the back teeth ? the molars and premolars. These are the teeth that have pits and fissures on their biting surfaces. Sealants are not meant for areas between the teeth or for the front teeth. Also, teeth that have decay or old fillings present are not sealed.
How are Sealants Applied?
Sealants are applied by a dental hygienist or dentist. First, the teeth to be treated are cleaned and polished. A mild acidic solution is placed on the chewing surface. This roughens the enamel surface to effectively bond with the sealant material. After rinsing and drying the tooth, the sealant material is flowed onto the tooth. Then the dental hygienist or dentist shines a bright light on the area for a few seconds. This light hardens the sealant instantly. Finally the bite is checked.
How long do Sealants Last?
With advances in dental technology and materials, properly applied sealants last for many years.
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.
Do Sealants replace the Fluorides?
The function of both the fluorides and sealants is to prevent the decay of tooth. Sealants are applied topically to only certain susceptible areas of the back teeth. Fluoride is used to prevent or reduce dental decay on all surfaces of all teeth. It is absorbed by the teeth most effectively during the developmental years and is retained in tooth enamel permanently.
Five ways to prevent tooth decay
Twice-daily brushing and flossing
F luoride containing paste.
Pit and fissure sealants
Regular checkups and cleaning by dental professionals
A balanced diet