Molar teeth have what are commonly referred to as ‘mountains and valleys’. The mountains, sometimes otherwise referred to as humps, are the pointed parts of the tooth. The valleys, the areas between the humps, are called fissures.
While dental fissures are an important part of how we chew our food, they are also areas of particular concern.
Because dental fissures can be fairly deep, plaque and tartar can build up much more easily even if we feel that we are doing a good job of brushing and flossing our teeth. And because the tooth enamel in the fissure area is usually somewhat thinner than on other areas of the tooth, the risk of decay and infections is significantly higher.
Dental Fissure Sealants
Because dental fissures are much more likely to develop plaque and tarter buildup which eventually leads to decay, a good preventative measure is to have fissure sealants applied to the teeth. Made of resin or glass ionomer, the sealant material works exactly as it sounds – it seals the fissure so that the risk of decay is greatly reduced.
The process of applying sealant to dental fissures is relatively quick and simple. First, the teeth are cleaned. Next, a special solution is applied and allowed to dry. The final step is for the sealant to be applied to the teeth, and cured so that it adheres to the tooth surface, and hardens. That’s it!
Dental sealants can last for years depending on how your teeth fit together, and what types of foods you consume. It’s a good idea to have your dentist check the sealant at each dental checkup to ensure there is no damage. If so, the sealant can be replaced.
In general, sealants can be applied at any time, however, it’s a good idea to start early. In fact, as each adult tooth comes in, the sealant can be applied, so that eventually all adult teeth are complete.