Fissure sealants are a simple, affordable and effective way to protect your child’s oral health. These preventative treatments prevent tooth decay by sealing the hard-to-reach grooves on their back molars and premolars.
If you are considering fissure sealants for your child, knowing what to expect during treatment can help ease your worries. In this blog, we will discuss the entire fissure sealant treatment process and answer some common questions and concerns parents may have about fissure sealants.
What are fissure sealants?
Fissure sealants are protective dental coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of the molars and premolars (back teeth). Their main purpose is to provide a barrier that prevents food particles and bacteria from settling in the deep grooves and pits of these teeth.
Fissure sealants are an essential component of preventive dentistry, able to reduce the risk of tooth decay and preserve overall oral health.
Why fissure sealants?
Fissure sealants help address a specific vulnerability in our back molars and premolars. The chewing surfaces of these teeth are naturally intricate, with deep grooves and pits, which present a challenge to cleaning. Although their complex shapes aid in chewing, they also create hiding spots for food particles and bacteria. Therefore, they are highly susceptible to cavities, especially in children.
Fissure sealants offer a practical and effective solution, overcoming the challenge presented by the complex tooth shapes. In this treatment, we create a protective barrier by applying thin plastic coatings to the vulnerable surfaces. This barrier acts as a shield, preventing food debris and harmful bacteria from settling into hard-to-reach crevices.
Fissure sealants can significantly reduce the risk of cavities, making them a valuable component of preventive dentistry. They are a simple, painless, and cost-effective way to protect your child’s oral health and ensure they enjoy a cavity-free smile for years to come.
Fissure sealant procedure
Here’s a step-by-step overview of the fissure sealant treatment procedure:
Step 1: Cleaning
The procedure starts with a thorough cleaning of the chewing surface of the tooth. Your dentist or dental hygienist may use a prophylaxis brush, pumice or other dental instruments to remove debris, plaque or bacteria from the tooth’s surface. This cleaning ensures that the sealant will adhere properly and will not be compromised by any contaminants.
Step 2: Preparation
Once the tooth has been thoroughly cleaned, it can be dried with air so that the sealant will bond securely. In some cases, a mild acid etching solution is applied to the tooth’s surface. This solution creates a microscopically rough surface on the enamel, strengthening the bond between the tooth and the sealant.
Step 3: Sealant application
After cleaning and preparing the tooth, your dentist or hygienist applies the liquid sealant. The material is meticulously applied to the tooth’s chewing surface. It flows into the deep crevices and pits, creating a smooth and protective layer. Typically, the sealant is clear or tooth-coloured, making it almost undetectable.
Step 4: Curing
A dental curing light is used to harden and set the sealant in place. The light activates the sealant’s chemical components, causing the material to harden within seconds. This step ensures the sealant becomes a durable, long-lasting protective barrier over the tooth’s surface.
Step 5: Evaluation and Finishing
After the sealant has cured, the dentist will examine it to ensure it was applied properly and covers all required areas. As necessary, any excess sealant can be trimmed or smoothed to ensure proper fit and bite alignment.
The fissure sealant procedure is typically quick, painless, and well tolerated by the majority of patients, including children. It is a highly effective cavity prevention method because it seals off the vulnerable chewing surfaces of back teeth, which decreases the risk of decay in these areas.
Oral care after fissure sealant treatment
While fissure sealants are a proactive measure to protect teeth, proper maintenance is necessary to ensure their long-term effectiveness.
Resume normal activities:
There is no downtime after getting fissure sealants. Your child can return to their regular activities, including eating and drinking, immediately after the treatment. Unlike some dental procedures, there are no dietary or lifestyle restrictions.
No special care needed:
Fissure sealants do not require any special care. Your child can continue with their regular oral hygiene routine, including brushing and flossing. The sealed surfaces will be easier to clean, contributing to better oral health.
Regular dental check-ups:
Continue to schedule and attend regular dental check-up appointments every 6 months. During these visits, your dentist will inspect the sealants to ensure they remain intact and effective. If any sealant wears off or shows signs of damage, it can be repaired or replaced as needed.
While there are no strict dietary restrictions, it’s a good idea to encourage a balanced diet for your child. Limit sugary snacks and drinks, particularly between meals, because they can contribute to tooth decay. Reserve sugary treats for special occasions rather than making them a daily habit.
Maintain Good Oral Hygiene:
Emphasise the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene habits. Ensure your child continues to brush their teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Flossing should also be a part of their daily routine, as it helps maintain healthy gums and prevents cavities between teeth.
Common questions from parents
1. Will the sealants be visible on my child’s teeth?
No, fissure sealants are typically clear or tooth-coloured. Since they are applied to the back molars and premolars, they are not visible when your child talks or smiles.
2. Is the application of sealants painful for my child?
No, the process is typically pain-free. Your child may feel some pressure during the cleaning and application, but it’s generally well tolerated and doesn’t require anaesthesia.
3. Are there any age restrictions for getting fissure sealants?
While they are commonly applied to children’s permanent molars and premolars, adults can also benefit from sealants if they have a high risk of cavities.
4. Can sealants fall off or wear out quickly?
Sealants can last for many years with proper care. Dentists regularly check their condition during check-up visits and can repair or replace them if necessary.
5. Do sealants replace regular brushing and flossing?
No, sealants are an additional protective measure, but proper oral hygiene practices, including brushing and flossing, should continue as usual.
Longevity of fissure sealants
Fissure sealants are designed to be durable, but their lifespan can vary depending on factors such as a child’s oral hygiene, diet and the quality of the sealant application. In general, fissure sealants can last for several years, often up to 4 to 9 years or more.
During regular dental check-up appointments, your dentist will assess the condition of the fissure sealants. If they show signs of wear or damage, your dentist can make the necessary repairs or reapply sealant to ensure continued protection. With proper maintenance, fissure sealants can effectively guard against cavities and contribute to long-term oral health, giving parents peace of mind that their child’s teeth are protected.