Last week I visited one of our dentists for my 6 month examination. A feeling of smugness came over me when the dentist informed me that, approaching my 30th birthday, I still didn’t need a single filling. Now I’d like to proclaim that my superior brushing technique, or my sugar-free lifestyle has led me to this, but that would be untrue. Rather, the forward thinking of my parents should be taking some of the credit for this: I had fissure sealants as my adult teeth came through.
So, what are fissure sealants? In short, they are a protective plastic coating that is applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. Our molars and premolars are covered with crinkles and dips: technically known as fissures and pits. These can, on some people’s teeth, become very deep. This makes them harder to clean, creating lots of lovely hiding places for all those nasty bacteria that lead to tooth decay. The application of fissure sealants means that a ‘shield’ is formed: those troublesome bacteria aren’t able to get into the dips. By stopping the bacteria in their tracks, the likelihood of fillings later in life is dramatically reduced.
Sounds great doesn’t it? What’s even greater is how easy it is to have your teeth sealed. Time-wise, you’re looking at just a few minutes per tooth. In this time, the tooth will be cleaned and prepared with a special solution. Once prepared the liquid sealant is brushed on and a bright light is used to dry it. What’s more, the process is completely pain free, and your child will walk out of the dentist surgery unable to see or feel any difference to their teeth.
Dentists particularly recommend fissure sealants if a child has a history of tooth decay, or perhaps if a sibling has had a lot of problems with tooth decay. Nonetheless, your dentist will examine all teeth beforehand, and identify exactly which teeth would benefit: it might be that the fissures and pits are not deep enough for the sealant to be needed on all teeth.
Many people also ask: when is a good time to apply the sealant? Generally speaking it’s a good idea to discuss with your dentist as soon as your child’s adult teeth start to come through. Teeth can be sealed individually, and so this might be an ongoing process over several years whilst those final adult teeth come through. And it’s not just children that can have fissure sealants. If you’re having problems cleaning particular teeth in adulthood it might be an idea to discuss the sealants with your dentist.
So whilst you’re busy playing tooth fairy and your child is transforming from ‘gappy’ to having their ‘grown up’ teeth coming through, have a think about fissure sealants. Next time you visit us at Ock Street, ask for more information. I certainly appreciate my fissure sealants, and I’m sure they are to thank for my clean bill of dental health so far. Thanks Mum and Dad!