What are sealants?
Sealants are a safe and painless way of protecting your 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.
The sealant forms a smooth, protective barrier by covering all the little grooves and dips in the surface of the tooth. Dental decay can easily start in these grooves if they are not sealed. If you would like to know more about the treatment, ask your dentist. They will tell you if fissure sealing will help your teeth, and if it is the right time to do it.
Which teeth should be sealed?
Sealants are only applied to the back teeth - the molars and sometimes to premolars. These are the teeth that have ‘pits' (small hollows) and ‘fissures' (grooves) on their biting surfaces. We will tell you which teeth should be sealed after your examination. Sealants are often applied as soon as the first permanent teeth start to come through, usually around 6-8 years old.
What is involved?
The process is usually quick and straightforward, taking only a few minutes for each tooth. The tooth is thoroughly cleaned, prepared with a special solution, and dried. The liquid sealant is then applied and allowed to set hard - usually by shining a bright blue light onto it. It is totally pain free, and the teeth do not feel any different afterwards.
How long do pit and fissure sealants last?
Sealants can last for years, we check them regularly to make sure that the seal is still intact. They can wear over time, and sometimes we need to add or replace some sealant to be sure that no decay can start underneath it.
Do I still have to clean my teeth?
Yes. It is still very important to do this. The smooth, sealed surface is now much easier to keep clean and healthy with normal brushing. Using a fluoride toothpaste, last thing at night and at least one other time during the day, will help to protect your teeth. Pit and fissure sealing reduces tooth decay and the number of fillings you might need.