When it comes to oral health, prevention is key. One essential preventive measure widely used today in dentistry is the application of fissure sealants.
What are Fissure Sealants?
Fissure sealants, as their name suggests, are materials used to “seal” or cover the pits and fissures, or the natural depressions and grooves, found on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. These are typically the molars and premolars, which are the most susceptible to tooth decay because food and bacteria can easily get stuck in these areas.
Composed primarily of a plastic material, fissure sealants are applied by dentists to provide a protective shield over the tooth enamel. The sealant quickly bonds into the depressions and grooves of the teeth, forming a protective layer over the enamel of each tooth. This helps protect the teeth from plaque and acids that contribute to decay.
Benefits and Risks of Fissure Sealants
Fissure sealants offer a plethora of benefits. First and foremost, they protect the tooth enamel from plaque and acids, reducing the likelihood of cavities developing. They provide a smooth surface that’s easy to clean, minimizing the chance of food and bacteria accumulation.
Furthermore, the application of sealants is a simple, painless procedure that doesn’t require drilling or removing tooth structure, making it an excellent preventive measure. In addition, sealants are relatively durable, generally lasting for several years before a reapplication is needed.
Despite the benefits, fissure sealants are not without risks, though they are minimal and far outweighed by the advantages. There’s a slight risk of an allergic reaction to the materials used, but such instances are rare. Over time, sealants can chip or wear away, necessitating a reapplication. Regular dental check-ups are necessary to monitor the state of the sealants and ensure they’re still providing effective protection.
Who needs Fissure Sealants?
Fissure sealants are highly recommended for children and teenagers, as the likelihood of developing pit and fissure decay begins shortly after the molars and premolars erupt. Thus, children and teenagers are often the prime candidates for sealants to protect their teeth during these cavity-prone years.
Adults, too, can benefit from fissure sealants, particularly those who are at a higher risk for caries or those with deep grooves and fissures in their teeth. However, the decision to apply sealants should always be based on the advice of a dental professional, who can assess the patient’s individual needs and oral health status.
Difference between Fissure Sealant and White Fillings
Although both fissure sealants and white fillings (also known as composite fillings) are used to protect teeth, they serve different purposes and are used under different circumstances. White fillings are typically used to repair a tooth that has already experienced decay or damage, filling the space where the decay has been removed to restore the tooth’s structure and function.
On the other hand, fissure sealants are preventive in nature. They are applied to healthy teeth to protect them from potential decay. In essence, while white fillings are a restorative treatment, fissure sealants are a preventive measure.
The Procedure of Applying Fissure Sealant
The process of applying fissure sealants is straightforward, non-invasive, and painless. It generally involves the following steps:
The dentist first thoroughly cleans the tooth to be sealed. This is typically done using a paste and a rotating brush.
Next, an absorbent material (like cotton) is placed around the tooth to keep it dry. A solution may be applied to the tooth surface to make it rough, which helps the sealant bond better to the tooth.
The dentist then paints the sealant onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. A special curing light may be used to facilitate the hardening process.
Lastly, the dentist checks the sealant and the patient’s bite to ensure that everything is as it should be. The procedure is then complete.
What are the Alternatives to Fissure Sealants?
While fissure sealants are effective in preventing tooth decay, there are other measures that can be taken as well. Brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, and maintaining regular dental check-ups are crucial for overall oral health. Consuming a balanced diet and limiting snacks and drinks high in sugar can also help prevent tooth decay.
Fluoride treatments are another alternative. They can help strengthen the teeth and make them more resistant to decay. Dental fillings and crowns are used when decay has already occurred, with the aim of restoring the tooth’s health and function.
However, it’s essential to remember that these are not necessarily replacements for sealants but can complement them as part of a comprehensive preventive dental care plan.
The Cost of Fissure Sealants in Ontario
The cost of fissure sealants can vary based on location, dentist, and individual needs. However, in Ontario, you can generally expect to pay between $25 to $60 per tooth. Dental insurance may cover some or all of this cost, especially for children, as sealants are a recognized preventive treatment. For a more precise quote, it’s best to consult with your local dental office.
What are fissure sealants?
Fissure sealants are a protective layer applied to the biting surfaces of the back teeth to prevent tooth decay.
How are fissure sealants applied?
The application involves cleaning the tooth, drying it, applying the sealant material, and then allowing it to harden.
How long do fissure sealants last?
Fissure sealants can last for several years, but regular dental check-ups are essential to ensure they’re still effective.
Are fissure sealants safe?
Yes, fissure sealants are safe. There’s a small risk of an allergic reaction, but instances are rare.
Do fissure sealants hurt?
No, the process of applying fissure sealants is painless.
Can adults have fissure sealants?
Yes, adults can benefit from fissure sealants, particularly those who have deep grooves and fissures in their teeth.
What is the difference between a fissure sealant and a filling?
Fissure sealants are preventive and applied to healthy teeth, while fillings are a restorative treatment for teeth that have decay.
What care is needed after sealant application?
No special care is needed. Maintain good oral hygiene habits, including brushing twice a day and regular flossing.
Do fissure sealants replace the need for fluoride?
No, sealants are an added layer of protection. Regular use of fluoride helps strengthen the tooth structure and prevent decay.
Your Trusted Dental Clinic in North York, Ontario
At Dynasty Tower Dental, your oral health is our priority. If you’re considering fissure sealants for your child or yourself, our team of experienced dentists is here to guide you. We strive to provide top-notch dental care in a comfortable environment. Reach out to us today.