Fissure Sealants

What are fissure sealants?

Fissures are groves in the chewing surfaces in the back teeth. They are difficult to keep clean and therefore at more risk of decay but they can be sealed with a tough plastic to protect them. The plastic is liquid at first but then it sets hard once dried. They may be see-through or dyed to the colour of the tooth. The sealant is only used on permanent teeth rather than milk teeth.

Your dentist will discuss with you whether or not you need sealants. If you do, you will have to evaluate which teeth need sealing and agree to it. The need for the sealant will depend on:

  • The shape of each tooth;
  • How much a child's teeth have already decayed;
  • How much decay a brother or sister has had (patters of tooth decay found within a family); and
  • A child's general health (general health problems can make it especially important to avoid dental problems).

What will my dentist do?

  • Clean the tooth thoroughly with a rotating brush or rubber polisher;
  • Dry the tooth and keep it dry by putting cotton wool round it and using suction;
  • Dab a mild acid on the tooth and leave it for a short time to make the tooth surface rough (this will not hurt at all);
  • Wash and dry the tooth by blowing water and then air onto it;
  • Change the cotton wool rolls around the tooth to keep it dry;
  • Paint the plastic onto the fissures;
  • Harden the plastic by pointing a bright light on it(you will see the dentist and dental nurse protect their eyes);
  • Check the tooth is comfortable to bite on; and
  • Trim and polish the sealant.

What are the benefits?

  • Fissure sealants protect teeth from decay.
  • They can last for years. If they fall or wear out, they can usually be replaced if there is no decay underneath.