In the fight against cavities one option that your dentist can provide for children is something that you might not be aware of called pit and fissure sealants. So, what are they and what can they do for your child? Today we will discuss the pros and cons on pits and fissure sealants so that you can decide for yourself if this is an option that you would like to take up with your dentist. Let’s start by explaining a little about how they work.
What are pits and fissures?
If you have never heard these terms before then you are not alone, pit and fissure sealant is an option that is fairly underused and yet quite effective. A pit is a small, non-cavity type hole that occurs on the biting area of a tooth. While fairly innocuous in the beginning, these spots are prone to catching food, plaque buildup, and eventually cavities. Fissures, by contract, are grooved areas on the outside of the tooth’s surface. Like pits, they are vulnerable to food, bacteria, and then the destruction that comes when the food particles get converted into sugar. When your dentist notices these then pits and fissure sealant is one option that they can use in order to prevent this.
A cost effective solution
One of the reasons that this treatment may not be so well-known is the relatively small cost. Pits and fissure sealant is an inexpensive treatment and it can prevent the need for fillings in a pit or a fissure later should these areas start gathering bacteria. This is a popular option for children and should be considered as prevention is always much better than treatment.
Pits and fissure sealant is not a complicated process. Think of it as a means of ‘saran wrapping’ the teeth with a strong coating that resists the entrance of bacteria, making the pits and fissures no longer accessible. A typical process is much like this:
- The dentist vigorously cleans and dries the teeth so that the sealant will stick well (saliva or food particles can hinder this and so this is very important)
- The tooth is lightly etched with an acidic chemical in order to ensure proper bonding
- Adhesive is placed under the sealant and the sealant is applied
- In some cases, a special light is used to harden the sealant and fix it in place
- The bite is then measured and the hardened sealant is shaved down as needed
Are there any special ways to take care of the teeth after a sealant is applied?
You’ll be happy to know that no special treatment or specialized cleaning is required beyond the standard brushing and flossing of the teeth. Your dentist will likely want to set up an appointment every six months in order to gauge the stability of the sealant and to note where it might be wearing down.
Why you might want to consider pits and fissure sealants
Pits and fissure sealant is a way that you can get your child ahead of the game when it comes to good dental hygiene. Left unattended, those naturally-occurring pits and fissures can widen, leading to cavities, fillings, crowns, or other expensive
“Those naturally-occurring pits and fissures can widen”
dental treatments. By contrast, taking advantage of pits and fissures sealant gives your child an edge for a long period of time, with studies showing that at least half of sealant treatments performed last for a period of 7 years. That’s a superb advantage for a child and coupled with good oral hygiene this can lead to a lifetime of winning smiles and isn’t that worth it?
Your child will need to be evaluated first
While this treatment sounds and IS great, it is not for everyone. Your dentist will need to take a look and evaluate your child’s teeth in order to determine if they are a proper candidate. Early tooth decay can be hard to notice and so some dentists may not wish to perform this procedure. The reason for this is the worry that they might seal in the decay, thus causing further erosion to the teeth in the long run. Set an appointment with your dentist and let them have a look at your child’s teeth and they should be able to properly evaluate if your child is a good candidate for and may benefit from this procedure.
Are there any complications that can arise for pits and fissure sealant?
While rare, there are complications which can arise from pits and fissure sealant. In some cases the child may be sensitive to the chemical composition of the sealant in which case it will need to be removed. Aside from this the sealant can occasionally cause a change in bite due to the thickness change in the teeth. Lastly, the scaling process that is done before the sealant is applied can cause a little soreness afterwards but this is not a side-effect, rather the standard soreness that can come with a rigorous cleaning at any time from a dentist.
When is a good time to get this treatment?
Once your child has grown themselves a new and permanent set of molars then this is a great time to begin. This will give you a chance to armor those teeth virtually the moment they emerge but if your child has had them for awhile now you can still benefit from this treatment. Contact your dentist and schedule an appointment for your next available convenience, you and your child will be happy that you did!
Today we have discussed pits and fissure sealant, a little-known option that takes a proactive approach to good oral hygiene. Check with your dentist to see if they offer this treatment and then schedule an evaluation. A little prevention now can go a long way and with a 7 year durability rating, this sealant is the best little dental hack that you’d never heard of until now!