The placement of pit and fissure sealants on the first set of permanent molars is an important part of a total hygiene care program for maximum protection against tooth decay.
The pits of the teeth are the deep grooves on the chewing surface of the tooth and the fissures are channels that extend down the sides of the teeth, facing the cheek or tongue.
This type of dental treatment is recommended for primary or permanent teeth that contain deep, narrow pits on the chewing surfaces.
These pits are traps for bacteria, which will lead to decay. It is difficult, and often impossible, to reach these areas with a toothbrush during normal cleansing.
Pit and fissure sealants are of greatest benefit to children, especially when the first sets of permanent molars erupt into the dentition between the ages of 6 and 13. These are generally considered the cavity prone years.
The sealant material is made of a type of liquid plastic that bonds directly to the prepared tooth surface. Sealants can be white, clear, or opaque in colour and feel smooth when touched. There are no toxic effects from the use of chemical sealants and the application is painless.
Properly sealed teeth should retain their sealant material for 6-7 years or longer. During every 6 month continuing care appointment, the dentist or hygienist will re-examine the sealant to ensure that it remains in place to continue the protection. Research has shown that the placement of pit and fissure sealants has dramatically reduced the incidence of dental decay in children during their cavity prone years. They also reduce the need for more complex and costly procedures being required that could compromise the structure and integrity of the tooth.