Fissure sealants

Why are fissure sealants recommended?

The top surfaces of your back teeth – where the chewing takes place – aren’t smooth and flat. They are crisscrossed with tiny hills and valleys – called pits and fissures. These are places where plaque can easily build up safe from your toothbrush and dental floss. Some of the pits and fissures are so narrow that even a single bristle from your toothbrush can’t get deep enough to clean them out.

If plaque sits in the fissures undisturbed it will use sugars in your diet to produce acid causing caries (decay) deep in the base of the fissure. A fissure is five times more likely to develop decay than other tooth surfaces.

One method of preventing cavities from developing in the pits and fissures is to seal them off with a special varnish called a fissure sealant. The fissure sealant forms a physical barrier that stops food, bacteria and plaque acids from contacting the tooth surface. It also produces a rounded contour at the base of the fissure making cleaning much easier.

How are fissure sealants done?

If your dentist determines that you need a fissure sealant to help protect your teeth from decay, some special steps are taken to prepare the teeth first.

Your dentist or hygienist will thoroughly clean the tooth first, then apply a mild acid solution to ‘etch’ the surface and make it easier for the pit and fissure sealant to stick. After a few seconds this etchant is then washed off, and the tooth dried.

Keeping the area dry and away from your saliva during the application is very important. If the tooth gets wet, the sealant might not stick properly.

Once everything is ready, your dentist ‘paints’ the sealant right over the pits and fissures on the tooth surface. A special kind of light cures (hardens) the sealant and makes it ready for use.

The whole procedure is quick and painless.