Dentists typically use fissure sealants on children's back teeth to help them avoid developing decay problems. In some cases, adults may also benefit from having sealants applied to problematic teeth. How do fissure sealants work and when are they suitable for adults as well as kids?
What Are Fissure Sealants?
It is harder to keep a tooth clean if its surface isn't smooth. If you have a back tooth that isn't smooth and that has a lot of bumpy areas, grooves and pits, the tooth may attract plaque, bacteria and food particles into its fissures. Fissure sealants are applied as a layer of protective material over the surface of a tooth; sealants effectively smooth out the top surface of the tooth making it easier to clean and preventing harmful substances from sitting on the tooth's surface. This may reduce the chances of the tooth developing decay issues.
These kinds of sealants are considered to be a useful way of protecting children's teeth, especially while they are learning how to keep their teeth clean and healthy. However, sealants aren't just for children and, in some cases, dentists will apply fissure sealants to adult teeth to give an additional layer of protection.
When Are Fissure Sealants a Good Option For Adults?
Your dentist may agree to use a sealant on one of your back teeth if the tooth is particularly pitted or grooved and your dentist is concerned that the tooth will become decayed without some kind of intervention. For example, you may be advised to use sealants if your dentist notices that you can't access the surface of a tooth to clean it adequately even if you're doing a good job of cleaning your teeth generally.
However, it's worth bearing in mind that fissure sealants are a preventative measure that are designed to protect the tooth against future problems. Sealants typically cannot fix existing problems. For example, your dentist is unlikely to recommend a sealant if your tooth has already been filled or worked on in the past, and you can't use sealants as an alternative to fillings if you already have decay that needs treatment.
If you have a lot of grooves and pits in one or more of your back teeth and your teeth are not suitable for sealant work, it's worth talking to your dentist about the problems you have keeping your teeth clean. A dentist like The Happy Tooth Kurri Kurri may be able to give you advice on cleaning methods.