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Nowadays there is an increasing emphasis on prevention within the dental profession, and helping in the fight against tooth decay is fissure sealing.
What Is Fissure Sealing?
When dental decay starts it normally occurs in the nooks and crannies of natural teeth where food debris and bacteria can remain undisturbed by the toothbrush. These grooves on the biting surfaces of teeth are called ‘fissures’ and are prone to this problem.
Dentist and hygienists conceal these fissures with a plastic coating that bonds to the teeth and stops the debris from going into the fissure and, if there is a small amount of decay there prevents the bacteria from receiving any further” food. These areas of the teeth that cannot be readily cleaned are also areas that the fluoride from toothpaste cannot reach.
Do All Fissures Need To Be Sealed?
No. The dentist will assess the likelihood of the patient developing decay, balanced against the depth of the fissures. Usually if a child has had two or more fillings in their milk teeth, their adult teeth will need to be fissure sealed.
When Should Fissures Be Sealed?
Ideally, as the adult teeth erupt, from about 6 years old; but even though the procedure is quick and painless, not all children can cooperate enough at this age.
How Long Do Fissure Sealants Last?
Long-term studies have shown that fissure sealants can last for up to 10 years. This however varies from mouth to mouth. If a lot of force is placed on the fissure sealant the bulk of the seal can be worn away, but this can be easily be replaced at a later stage if required.
Do Adults Benefit From Fissure Sealants?
There is some doubt about this, but many dentists will seal an adult tooth and keep it under observation if they are not sure whether there is decay or not. Unfortunately, much adult decay occurs between the teeth, an area that cannot be sealed.
Your dentist can give you further advice on fissure sealing at your next check up.