What are Pit and Fissure Sealants?
Prevention is better than cure, right? When it comes to dental health, the expression has never been more accurate, because fixing dental problems after they come up can be painful, frustrating, and costly. There are ways to protect your teeth from decay, like with pit and fissure sealants. A sealant, made from glass ionomer or another similar bonding agent, is a safe and painless way for protecting your teeth. It is applied to the biting surfaces of your back teeth, creating a hard shield that keeps bacteria and food from getting into the tiny grooves in the teeth.
Why Might You Need Sealants?
Pits and fissures occur naturally. Pits are small hollows that are found on the biting surfaces of your teeth and fissures are grooves on the outside of the surface of a tooth. These areas can deepen over time and quickly fill with bacteria which may lead to dental concerns. The bacteria grows and starts interacting with the starches in the food you consume, turning them into acids that start eating away at tooth enamel. Pits and fissures can be hard to remove with regular oral hygiene practices, and if your teeth show signs of pits and fissures, you may be a good candidate for dental sealants.
How Sealants Work
The purpose of dental sealants is to coat and seal these hollows and grooves and prevent bacteria from building up on the teeth. Whether you can benefit from a sealant depends on the size and depth of the hollows and grooves.
The sealant application process is pain-free, straightforward and quick, and it takes only a few minutes for each tooth. First, the tooth is cleaned, prepared with a unique solution, and dried. It covers the dips and grooves on the tooth’s surface by forming a smooth and protective barrier. Next, the dentist applies the liquid sealant which is set hard by shining a bright light onto it.
The teeth that most frequently develop pits and fissures are molars and premolars at the back of the mouth, so these sealants are often used on them.
Do You Still Have to Clean Your Teeth?
It is crucial to keep cleaning your teeth with fluoride toothpaste, at least one time during the day and last thing at night. The sealed surface is smooth and a lot easier to keep healthy and clean with regular brushing habits.
How Long Do the Sealants Last?
Pit and fissure sealants can last for years, but they can wear over time. That is why you will need to have your dentist check them regularly to see whether the seal has remained intact. If not, they need to add or replace some sealant to make sure no decay can start underneath.
Dental sealants are still an underused option for protecting your molar and premolar teeth, especially in less wealthy populations. The sealants are often applied to children, when the first permanent molar teeth come through (between 6-7 years of age,) while the rest are usually sealed between 11-14 years of age, as soon as they appear. If you’re on the road for getting your RDA (Registered Dental Assistant) certificate, the Pit and Fissure Sealants course has been approved mandatory for RDA application by the Dental Board of California. Contact Dental Specialties Institute, Inc. for more information about the course or browse our website to find out more about the programs we offer.