Sealing

Fissure Sealing: Guide to Dental Health Protection

Maintaining a healthy smile goes beyond brushing and flossing twice a day. While these habits are crucial, they might not shield your teeth from decay, especially the back molars. These teeth have deep grooves and pits on their chewing surfaces, called fissures, which can trap food particles and plaque. This creates a breeding ground for cavity-causing bacteria, risking your pearly whites. Fortunately, a simple and effective dental procedure called fissure sealing can significantly reduce your chances of developing cavities. This guide delves into everything you need to know about fissure sealing, from its benefits and process to its effectiveness and cost. If you want this service, a Peoria Dentist can provide professional fissure sealing to help protect your teeth.

What are Fissure Sealants?

Fissure sealants are thin, protective coatings made from plastic or resin material applied to the chewing surfaces of your back teeth, primarily molars and premolars. These sealants act as barriers, filling in the pits and fissures and creating a smooth surface that’s easier to clean. By sealing these grooves, they prevent food debris and plaque buildup, ultimately hindering the growth of cavity-causing bacteria.

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Benefits of Fissure Sealants

Fissure sealants offer a multitude of benefits for both children and adults:

  • Cavity Prevention: The primary advantage of fissure sealants is their ability to reduce the risk of cavities significantly. By blocking food and bacteria from accumulating in the pits and fissures, they prevent the formation of decay-causing acids that erode tooth enamel.

  • Painless and Non-invasive Procedure: Applying fissure sealants is a quick and painless procedure. It typically involves minimal discomfort, making it suitable for children and adults with dental anxiety.

  • Cost-Effective: Fissure sealants are a preventive dental treatment, meaning they help prevent cavities before they develop. This translates to significant cost savings compared to the expense of treating cavities, which often involves fillings, crowns, or even root canals.

  • Long-lasting Protection: Fissure sealants can last several years, offering long-term protection against cavities. However, regular dental checkups are necessary to monitor the condition of the sealant and reapply if needed.

  • Improved Oral Health: By preventing cavities, fissure sealants contribute to better oral health. This can lead to fewer dental problems, improved chewing ability, and a brighter, healthier smile.

Who Can Benefit from Fissure Sealants?

Fissure sealants are particularly recommended for children when their permanent molars erupt, typically around 6-7 years old. Since these molars have deep grooves that are difficult to clean thoroughly, sealants offer crucial protection during cavity-prone childhood years. Sealants can also benefit teenagers and adults with deep pits and fissures on their molars or premolars, especially those susceptible to cavities.

The Fissure Sealing Procedure

Applying fissure sealants is straightforward and usually completed within a single dental visit. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect:

  1. Cleaning and Drying: The dentist will thoroughly clean the teeth to be sealed, removing any plaque or debris.

  2. Tooth Preparation: A mild conditioning agent might be applied to the tooth surface to create a slightly rough texture, ensuring better sealant adhesion.

  3. Sealant Application: The dentist will then paint the liquid sealant onto the cleaned and prepared tooth surface, ensuring it fills all the pits and fissures.

  4. Light Curing: A special curing light is used to harden the sealant material for certain types of sealants.

  5. Checking and Polishing: Finally, the dentist will check your bite and polish the sealant to ensure a smooth and comfortable fit.

How Effective are Fissure Sealants?

Studies have shown that fissure sealants are highly effective in preventing cavities. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), sealants can reduce the risk of decay in molars by up to 80% for at least two years [2]. Their effectiveness can extend beyond that with proper maintenance and reapplication when necessary.

Cost of Fissure Sealants

The cost of fissure sealants can vary depending on your location, dentist’s fees, and insurance coverage. However, it’s generally considered an affordable dental treatment. Many dental insurance plans cover fissure sealants, especially for children. It’s advisable to contact your insurance provider to understand your specific coverage details.

Maintaining Fissure Sealants

While fissure sealants offer long-lasting protection, they can wear down or chip over time due to normal wear and tear. To ensure optimal effectiveness, it’s crucial to maintain good oral hygiene practices, including brushing and flossing twice daily. Regular dental checkups are also essential for the dentist to monitor the condition of the sealants and recommend reapplication if needed.

Conclusion

Fissure sealants are a simple, safe, and effective way to safeguard teeth from cavities. They offer many benefits, including significant cavity prevention, a painless procedure, cost-effectiveness, and long-lasting protection. For children and adults with deep pits and fissures, fissure sealants can be valuable to your oral health routine.