Pit & Fissure Sealants

posted by Dr. James G. Hood
Thursday, May 20, 2010

Decay in teeth is caused by plaque.  Plaque is bacteria and all the sticky material and waste products produced by those bacteria.  One waste, acid, when left repeatedly, will attack enamel causing a cavity (hole) in your tooth.

Two of the best preventive methods against cavities are the application of:

Sealants to the pits and fissures on the tops of teeth

And the application of fluoride to teeth.

This article focuses on preventing decay in the premolars and molars using pit and fissure sealants.  These grooves are often quite deep microscopically, making cleaning those areas impossible since the bristles of a toothbrush will not reach such tight places.

Sealants are applied by cleaning out the grooves and depressions in the tooth.  The surface of the enamel is etched (roughened) with a weak acid solution to help the sealant adhere to the tooth.  Once the acid is rinsed away, the tooth is air dried and brushed with the sealant material.  A special light cures (hardens) the material preventing plaque from reaching the enamel.  Finger-like strands of sealant material reach deep into the enamel, protecting those areas from decay.

Sealants are an important part of a total decay prevention program, along with daily brushing and flossing, the application of fluoride, and limiting the times your teeth are exposed to sugar rich foods.  Twice yearly visits to your friendly dentist is also a good habit to develop.

Bon Appétit!

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