Fissure Seals prevent 80% of tooth decay
Fissure Seals are a safe and effective way of preventing tooth decay.
All back teeth have grooves on the chewing surface called fissures. Many front teeth have similar grooves on their back surface called cingulum pits.
Often these grooves are narrower than a toothbrush bristle and cannot be cleaned effectively. Bacteria can remain within the grooves un-disturbed, secreting acid which softens the tooth enamel leading to decay. This is the reason why many people have cross shaped fillings on their back teeth following their original cross shaped fissures.
Fissure seals use a tooth coloured liquid plastic resin to block deepest parts of the tooth grooves preventing bacteria from accumulating and leaving the tooth surface much smoother and easier to clean. They require no injection and no drilling.
Fissure seals work best if applied soon after a tooth grows but they are effective at any age. If fissure seals are used to protect adult back teeth shortly after they grow then the treated teeth are 80% less likely to suffer decay and require fillings.
The first adult back teeth have usually grown enough to allow fissure seals by age 8. The next back teeth have usually grown enough to allow fissure seals by age 14. The last back teeth to grow are usually ready for seals at around age 20.
Fissure seals are hard wearing and continue to protect the teeth from decay for many years. If they wear down over time they can be simply ‘topped up’ with more resin.
If teeth are not sealed then bacteria in the grooves often discolours the enamel resulting in stained fissures. This staining is often an early warning sign that decay is imminent and that a filling will soon be needed.
Teeth with stained fissures can still be protected with fissure seals. The fissure is carefully polished to remove the staining and causative bacteria before applying the sealant resin to the freshly cleaned surface.