Dental sealants are recognized as an effective approach to preventing pit and fissure caries. A dental sealant is a protective covering that is applied to the chewing surface of a tooth to prevent the formation of cavities.
What sealants do is create a barrier so that bacteria cannot attack the chewing surfaces of the teeth. These are also called pit and fissure sealants, because they protect the pits and fissures or grooves on the teeth from cavities.
What Is a Pit & Fissure Sealant?
The top surfaces of your teeth — where the chewing takes place — aren’t smooth and flat. They are criss-crossed with tiny hills and valleys, called pits and fissures. These are places where plaque can 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.
One method of preventing cavities from developing in the pits and fissures is to seal them with a special varnish called a pit and fissure sealant. If your dentist determines that you need a pit and fissure sealant to help protect your teeth from decay, some special steps are taken to prepare the teeth first.
How Is It Applied?
Your dentist, hygienist or certified dental assistant will clean the tooth first and then apply a mild acid solution to “etch” the surface and make it easier for the pit and fissure sealant to stick. The whole procedure is quick and painless. 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 dental professional “paints” the sealant right over the pits and fissures on the tooth surface. A special kind of light cures the sealant and makes it ready for use.
Many dental problems can and should be prevented. If you have any further questions and would like to see if you would benefit from pit and fissure sealants or other preventive measures, please ask us.
Our goal is to preserve your natural teeth and smile for a lifetime, and sealants help make this possible.
How Long Do Sealants Last?
Sealants can last many years. During every 6 month re-care check, your dentist will re-examine the sealant to ensure that it remains in place to continue the protective seal. Habits such as grinding (bruxism) or chewing on ice or other hard substances can dislodge or damage the sealant. If this occurs, a new sealant can be applied very easily.