Fissure Sealants are a protective layer placed on the Occlusal biting surface of Molar teeth. The Occlusal surface is a natural stagnation area where cavities can occur. These sealants are placed to protect the fissures from decay.
Decay will occur due to poor diet and brushing due to bacteria that exists within plaque. If the sticky film of plaque is not thoroughly removed, cavities will begin to form.
Generally, the patient does not require an anaesthetic. Firstly, the dentist will clean the tooth area with a slow hand piece and a dab of prophylaxis paste. As Composite is not an adherent material, the dentist will acid etch the tooth surface to make it retentive. Cotton wool rolls are placed to retract the tongue and cheek if needed, as the acid etch as a very bitter taste, this can upset the younger patients and make them gag, which can make the child nervous and in turn un-cooperative. This is left on for around 20-30 seconds. Good, thorough aspiration is required when rinsing off the acid etch as to avoid the patient swallowing it. As the surface needs to be completely dry, the dentist will then completely dry the tooth and again place cotton rolls to tongue and cheek area. The dentist may require you to use the slow saliva ejector as part of keeping the mouth dry. The dentist will then apply the fissure sealant material – such as Helioseal to the tooth. This material will then require to be light cured to harden on the tooth surface. This procedure will be repeated on each tooth that is requiring a sealant. All in all it takes around 5 minutes per tooth from start to finish.
Fissure sealants should last around 5 years, should it come away it is very easy to place back on, this is why 6 monthly check ups are important, especially in the young.