Fissure Sealants

fake tooth with magnifying glass

The importance of “Fissure Sealants”

What are “Fissure Sealants”?

If your dentist mentions “fissure sealants,” it is important to know what they are and when they are used. Also you need to know what their benefits are, what they cost and if any problems can occur from them.

A fissure sealant or a sealant is a very thin hard resin based plastic coating which is bonded into the biting surface of a tooth so effectively blocking out the little “cracks” you see on the surface of a tooth where decay most commonly occurs.

Fissure sealants have been around for more than 40 years for dentists to use as a preventative measure. Although they have been around for a very long time, this does not mean that the technique and the material was the same that time ago compared to now. The materials used for fissure sealants are now much better and the technique has also improved.

“Fissure Sealants” Use

Generally speaking, fissure sealants are mainly used in permanent back molar teeth. In addition, they are most often used in children within the first 5-years that a permanent back molar tooth has come through. Fissure sealants are used to prevent Decay and therefore they are used to prevent having your teeth filled. This is the reason why they are most often used in children within the first 5-years that a permanent back molar tooth has come through. It is during the early stages when a tooth has come into the mouth that it is most vulnerable to Decay. 

All the back teeth can be sealed in just one visit so it’s quick and probably the easiest of all dental procedures. This is really ideal for nervous patients involving not even the need for an injection or drilling. Having a fissure sealant is also cheaper than a filling.

Fissure sealants were in the past recommended for children’s teeth so that they could avoid the need for further fillings. However in those early days, many fissure sealants which were placed used to dislodge or worse still, start to leak causing horrendous decay inside the tooth and in some cases led to the tooth being extracted. Fissure sealants then got a really bad name and dentists stopped using them. I have seen really bad cases where fissure sealants have not done the job that they were supposed to do, which was to stop decay in the first place. I have been doing fissure sealants for over 23 years and I am a big advocate of them and I very rarely have failures.

So, what is the secret?

Well, firstly, the tooth which is about to be sealed must be prepared properly so that the sealant will stick tenaciously to the cracks. Secondly, the whole area must be absolutely 100% dry and no exceptions because any moisture affects the seal formed. Thirdly, the sealant must be hardened fully and deeply. This is accomplished using a special light.  Finally you must make sure that the fissure sealants are monitored properly at every check-up where you look for any signs of leaking or if tiny bits have dislodged.

The best thing is that if any of these has happened, the sealant can be easily replaced and no harm has been done. Over the years, I have placed thousands of fissure sealants both on the NHS and privately which has led to patients keeping those teeth into their adult life. Also fissure sealants are not only for children but are extremely effective to be used in adults as well. Their cost is relatively low and their benefits make it probably the most cost effective of all treatments.