Fissure sealants are a preventative treatment best applied to your child’s adult back teeth soon after they erupt. These teeth contain intricate fissures that can easily trap decay-causing bacteria. Fissure sealants seal these tooth surfaces, preventing infection and decay by forming a thin protective layer of flowable composite resin or GIC that quickly hardens after application.
Why Your Child Might Need Sealants
Even though fissures do occur naturally, they can deepen over time, leading to dental caries, so a child whose teeth show signs of pits and fissures may be a prime candidate for dental sealants. As this bacteria grows, it interacts with the starches in the food you eat, turning them into acids that can eat away at tooth enamel. If this process causes enough decay, it eventually spreads to the inner pulp of the tooth. This can result in extremely painful and unsightly damage, which can cause lifelong dental problems.
How Sealants Work
Dental sealants work to coat and seal the grooves and hollows, preventing even the most the harmful bacteria from building up on the tooth. The size and depth of the hollows and grooves in your child's teeth will determine whether he or she can benefit from the application of a sealant. These sealants are typically used on the molars and premolars at the back of the mouth, as these are the teeth that most frequently develop surface irregularities.
Evaluating Your Child
A thorough dental evaluation of your child's new permanent teeth will determine whether or not they have pits and fissures and an increased risk exists for developing dental caries. Not all teeth that carry this condition require sealing, which is why a pediatric dentist can perform an analysis of these new teeth to see if it is necessary. Having identified if the pits and fissures are deep enough to warrant the application of a sealant, the dentist will give you this recommendation. Ultimately, however, it is up to the parent. You'll know it's urgent if you can see grooves and hollows on the surface of the back teeth.
Keeping Good Oral Hygiene
Until your child receives this vital evaluation, make sure he or she maintains good oral health. A regimen that consists of daily brushing and diligent flossing will help to protect the teeth from an accumulation of germs. Keep in mind that fluoridated drinking water has greatly reduced the chances of new teeth developing bacterial problems. After sealants are applied, it's just as important to maintain oral hygiene to prevent other problems from arising, both in and out of the mouth.
What to Expect During a Sealant Procedure
Placing dental sealants is usually painless and doesn't require drilling or numbing medications.
- Tooth preparation – first, the dentist will polish the surface of the tooth to remove plaque and food debris from the pit and fissure surfaces. Next the dentist will isolate and dry the tooth. Then the dentist will etch the surface of the tooth, rinse off the etching material and dry the tooth.
- Sealant application – the dentist will apply the dental sealant material to the surface of the tooth with a brush; a self-curing light will be used for about 30 seconds to bond the sealant to the tooth surface.
- Evaluation – finally, your Tower Dental dentist in Balwyn will evaluate the dental sealant and check its occlusion. Once the dental sealant has hardened it becomes a hard plastic coating, and you can chew on the tooth again.