Dental Fissure Sealants Prevent Decay
Mums often ask me if they should have their children’s teeth fissure sealed and my short response is yes: prevention of dental disease is always the most preferable approach. I hope this short article will be helpful in enabling parents to make an informed decision regarding their children’s dental health.
Since its introduction if the early 1970s, the application of systemic or topical fluoride has lowered the incidence of tooth decay on the smooth surfaces of teeth. However, much of the decay found in children’s teeth occurs in the pits and fissures on the chewing surfaces of back teeth. To solve this problem, dental sealants were developed to act as a physical barrier so that cavity-causing bacteria cannot invade.
A fissure sealant is a plastic resin material that is usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth—premolars and molars. This material is bonded into the pits and fissures of the chewing surfaces and acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from attack by plaque and/or acids.
Dental fissure sealants are usually professionally applied. The dentist, hygienist or therapist cleans and dries the teeth to be treated. Then a thin layer of liquid plastic material is painted on the pits and fissures of the tooth. A special light is shined on the material for a few seconds to cure the plastic.
After curing, the plastic becomes a hard, thin layer covering the treated portions of the tooth. Despite the incredible pressures placed on teeth during chewing each day, dental fissure sealants often remain effective for five years or longer, although sealants do wear naturally and should be checked at regular intervals. If sealants wear or become damaged, they can be repaired or replaced simply by applying new sealant material to the worn or damaged portions.
Children, and especially those that have had holes in their baby teeth, should receive sealants shortly after the eruption of their first permanent molars, around the ages 6 to 7 and again at age 12 to 13 when their second molars appear. During your child’s regular dental visits we will check the condition of the sealants and reapply them when necessary.
So the answer is YES. Dental fissure sealants are available to all children for a small private fee, much less than a filling. Investing in fissure sealants not only protects your children’s teeth, it gives them a great start in the fight against dental disease and the achievement of maintaining their natural teeth for life.
Please ask us at your next dental examination about fissure sealants.