The age-old saying ‘Prevention is better than cure’ holds true in dentistry as well. Pit and fissure sealant application to newly erupted teeth is a simple painless procedure that could significantly reduce the chances of tooth decay.

What are pits and fissures?

The biting surfaces of our back teeth (premolars and molars)are uneven with tiny holes called pits and thin crevices called fissures. Small bits of food can get easily trapped in these and support the growth of decay-causing bacteria.

What are pit and fissure sealants?

Pit and fissure sealants are resin or glass ionomer cement-based protective coating which is applied to the vulnerable pits and fissures on the biting surfaces of teeth to prevent decay.

Which teeth need pit and fissure sealants? 

A dentist needs to clinically evaluate the pits and fissures on the teeth to determine whether they need sealants or not. Some teeth have shallow and broad type pits and fissures that are easy to clean, hence not prone to decay. They don’t need pit and fissure sealants. Teeth that have deep and narrow pits and fissures are difficult to clean by routine brushing and are prone to decay. They are good candidates for pit and fissure sealants

How do pit and fissure sealants work?

These sealants form a hard shield and prevent food and bacteria from entering these tiny holes and crevices, hence help prevent tooth decay. It also makes the tooth easier to clean.

What is the procedure?

It is a simple, painless procedure that takes only a few minutes for each tooth. The tooth is cleaned, prepped and the liquid sealant is applied to the deep pits and fissures. It is then allowed to set hard, usually by shining the curing light.

When should it be done?

Pit and fissure sealant should be placed soon after a tooth erupts into the oral cavity. The suitable ages are 3–4 years for baby teeth,6–7 years for the first permanent molars and 11–13 years for the second permanent molars and premolars.

How long do they last?

With proper placement technique and good oral hygiene maintenance, sealants can last up to 10 years. But it is always a good idea to get them checked at your routine dental check-ups for signs of wear or decay.