Pit and Fissure Sealants
Dental sealants are a dental treatment intended to prevent tooth decay. Teeth have recesses on their biting surfaces; the back teeth have fissures (grooves) and some front teeth have cingulum pits.
It is these pits and fissures which are most vulnerable to tooth decay, partly because food sticks in them and they are hard-to-clean areas. Dental sealants are materials placed in these pits and fissures to fill them in, creating a smooth surface that is easy to clean. Dental sealants are mainly used in children who are at higher risk of tooth decay, and typically they are placed as soon as the adult molar teeth come through.
A fissure sealant is a material that essentially covers the grooves of teeth. Protecting deep grooves reduces the chance of tooth decay on the top of your teeth. These grooves are known as “pits” and “fissures“. A pit is a small depression on the surface of the tooth, whereas fissures are the grooves that naturally occur on all biting surfaces of teeth. Most of the time, the teeth at the back (the premolars and molars) have the most grooves, however the teeth at the front (incisors and canines) can also have pits and fissures. These pit and fissures can be deep or shallow.
Pits and fissures on the surface of the tooth are ideal in harbouring dental plaque and calculus, which contain bacteria. This area of plaque and calculus is often very difficult to clean, as the bristles on your toothbrush are often not able to get to the deepest part of these grooves. If the groves are not cleaned properly, decay will start on the top of the tooth, and the tooth will sometimes need a filling.