Preventing Decay with Sealants

Do you know that while fluoride can prevent decay on smooth surfaces of the teeth, it is less effective on biting surfaces? Deep pits and grooves can be found on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. These are termed 'fissures' and are usually too narrow for toothbrush bristles and streams of water to effectively clean. They provide a conducive environment for bacteria to flourish, often resulting in tooth decay.

What can be done?

Fissure sealants can be applied to the teeth.
How do they work?

Sealing the tooth surface protects fissures from bacteria and fermentable foods like sugar and starches to prevent decay from starting deep within the fissures.

How effective are sealants?

Many studies conducted show sealants to be very effective in preventing decay in fissures. Even early decay appears to stop after sealants are applied and food source for the bacteria is cut off.

How are sealants applied?

Application of sealants is both easy and painless. No drilling is required. The tooth is properly cleaned, treated and dried, before the actual application of the sealant. It then hardens to form a protective coating over the tooth.

How long can they last?

Many studies have shown sealants to be very effective in preventing decay in fissures. They do however require regular maintenance by your dentist. This can be done via your six-monthly dental visit.

Recent research shows that a properly placed sealant will last as long as a typical amalgam filling.

Even if a sealant is damaged or lost, it is easily repaired and replaced. Regular maintenance by your dentist will help them last.

When should sealants be put on the teeth?

All sealants need to be maintained. They can be done easily on each check up visit. Your dentist will repair and reapply sealants which have been worn down or dislodged.

On which teeth are they most often applied?

Any tooth with deep pits and fissures should be sealed, provided it has not been previously filled and is otherwise free of decay. The most commonly treated teeth are the molars and premolars. Sealants can be applied to primary molars as well.

When should sealants be put on the teeth?

Sealants are most effective when applied soon after the complete eruption of the tooth. Early application ensures pits and fissures are sealed before the decay process begins.

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