What Are Dental Fissure Sealants?

Although you may come through a regular dental check-up without the need for further treatment, your dentist may suggest ways to improve your oral health to prevent problems developing in the future. For example, your dentist may recommend having sealants applied to the fissures in some of your teeth to reduce the chances of decay in the future.

What Are Fissures?

The surfaces of your back teeth are not even. These teeth have natural grooves or pits, known as fissures, to help you chew. Although useful, these fissures may lead to dental problems. If they are deep or hard to access with a toothbrush, it can be difficult to clean them thoroughly, and they may allow food and plaque to build up on the tooth. Over time, this material may cause dental decay, leading to the need for fillings or other treatments.

How Do Fissure Sealants Work?

Sealants coat the fissures in the teeth with a thin plastic covering. Typically, your dentist will clean and dry the tooth, before applying a liquid sealant to the fissures and hardening it with ultra-violet light. This process smooths out grooves, cracks and pits, making the tooth's surface more even and easy to clean. Once a fissure is sealed, food particles and plaque can no longer get trapped inside it, reducing the likelihood of decay.  

Are Sealants Permanent?

Fissure sealants may need replacement over time, if they wear down or break. Sealants may last up to fifteen years, but typically last between two and seven years.

Who Should Have Fissure Sealants?

Dentists often recommend fissure sealants for children. According to the Victoria Better Health Channel, parents may find it useful to check if their children need sealants when their permanent molars start to come through, as there is an increased likelihood of decay at this stage.

Dentists may also recommend sealants as a preventative treatment for adults, especially if they are having problems cleaning the fissures in their back teeth adequately. If you are unsure if your teeth would benefit from sealants, just ask your dentist.

Fissure Sealant Cost Benefits

Although you may have to pay for sealants, you may find this a low-cost investment, especially when you compare it to the costs of managing the decay that might occur in the future. For example, the average cost of a fissure sealant treatment is $54; a filling could cost between $140-250, depending on its complexity.