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Section Questions and Answers

Fissure Sealants

"The professional application of dental sealants onto the chewing surfaces of teeth is an important caries-preventive measure that complements the use of fluoride... their use in combination, has the potential of virtually eliminating dental caries in all children." - U.S. Surgeon General's Report.

  1. What are fissure sealants?
  2. When should a tooth be sealed?
  3. Which teeth should be sealed?

1. What are fissure sealants?

  • Fissure sealants are plastic coatings that help to prevent tooth decay when applied to the chewing surfaces of teeth.
    • The chewing surfaces of the molar and pre-molar permanent teeth are pitted and grooved with lines and fissures, which are difficult to clean. Decay-causing bacteria thrive in these areas.
    • When a fissure sealant is placed into these grooves and fissures, it shields them from plaque and food particles. This reduces the risk of decay.
    • The sealant is applied to a dry tooth and is then chemically bonded to it.
    • It is a painless and quick treatment. No local anaesthetic is needed.
    • Sealants are tooth-coloured and are quite unobtrusive.
    • They can last for many years.

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2. When should a tooth be sealed?

  • A tooth should be sealed soon after it has erupted.
    • A newly erupted tooth is not yet fully calcified (hardened) and is susceptible to decay.
    • The sooner it can be protected by a fissure sealant, the better.
  • These sealants will be checked by your dentist every six months, as part of the professional oral care program.
  • Sealants can be repaired or replaced if necessary.

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3. Which teeth should be sealed?

  • The permanent molars are usually the teeth to be sealed.
  • Where pre-molar teeth are deeply grooved or pitted, they should also be treated.
  • As much as 90% of all dental caries in schoolchildren occurs in pits and fissures. The teeth at highest risk by far are the permanent first and second molars.
  • Baby teeth are not usually treated in this way. However, if the baby teeth are very decayed, it is a sign that the child is susceptible to tooth decay.
    The permanent teeth should then be sealed as soon as possible after they erupt.

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