Fissures are naturally occurring grooves on a tooth’s biting surfaces and are five times more likely to develop decay than other tooth surfaces. Only the deepest and narrowest ones are at risk, as food particles may get trapped inside, attracting bacteria that create plaque, which eats into the tooth enamel and causes decay.
How to tackle this? Studies show that fissure sealants can effectively reduce the occurrence of tooth decay.
A dentist applies a painless and non-invasive coat of sealant to a cleaned tooth. It sets in minutes and forms a physical barrier that stops food bacteria and plaque acids from contaminating each tooth’s surface.
Most sealants are applied to molars and premolars, but any tooth with fissures can be treated. Primary or “baby” molars may also be recommended for treatment.
As the fissure sealant wears down, protection is reduced but even after five years, a protected tooth has half the risk of decay as compared to an unprotected tooth.
The best time is immediately after the permanent teeth appear. They can also be applied to baby teeth or used to preserve healthy teeth in adults.
It is common to treat only those teeth most at risk of decay, but your dentist may suggest treatment for all premolars and molars as a safeguard.
If detected early, tooth decay can sometimes be treated with a fissure sealant instead of fillings. Speak to your dentist to learn more about how fissure sealants can be beneficial for your dental care.
From The Finder (Issue 286), September 2017
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