Fissure Sealants

Sealants are used by dentists in coating children's teeth to lower risk of tooth decay. The sealant treatment is pain-free and involves the dentist applying a liquid, plastic-like seal over the tooth surface of the back molar teeth (which are used for chewing).

The coating seals tooth grooves so that food debris, plaque and bacteria do not become trapped, which is often the main cause of tooth decay. The sealant acts as a hard, protective layer for maintaining healthy tooth structure and function.

The premolars and molars are usually coated with the sealant to fill tooth surface fissures and strengthen tooth structure. A dentist examines oral condition to determine suitability of sealant treatment. If tooth grooves are shallow then fissure sealants may not be necessary.

What is involved?

  • First the teeth are cleaned, in particularly the back ones which will receive the sealant treatment.
  • Once cleaned, the teeth are prepared with a dental solution.
  • Once dried, the liquid fissure sealant is applied and cured with an ultraviolet light that facilitates fast hardening and setting of the sealant.
  • The treatment is straight forward and takes a few minutes within the dental practice.

Will my child feel it?

Treatment with dental sealant is painless and the teeth feel like normal after the procedure. The only difference is that the tooth grooves are sealed and the child is protected against tooth decay.

How long do they last?

Sealants are designed to be durable, lasting for a number of years. Normal wear is expected and easily checked during regular dental appointments. If required, a sealant may be replaced or re-applied to strengthen the tooth and prevent against developing tooth decay.

How do they work?

The sealant forms a hard, protective layer that covers the tooth grooves of the back molar teeth, preventing the development of decay. Children are more likely to experience greater oral health after dental sealants are applied.

When should my child receive dental sealants?

Once the permanent teeth have fully developed and have replaced the existing milk teeth, a dental sealant may be applied to the molars at the back of the mouth.

Children aged between 6 and 7 are usually ready to receive dental sealant treatment. The treatment is usually repeated in children between the ages of 11 and 14.

How much does it cost?

Dental sealant treatment is not expensive and may be received via the NHS. If received through private care, a cost for treatment may be incurred, and varies per practice. Dental sealant treatment prevents tooth decay and more costly treatments at a later stage.

Do my children still have to clean their teeth?

Treatment with dental sealant does not replace teeth cleaning. All children should still clean their teeth as recommended by the dentist. Normal teeth brushing, flossing and mouth rinsing should continue. Using fluoride-containing toothpaste and mouthwash also helps to prevent tooth decay for maintaining children's oral health at a good standard.

Who do I ask about the treatment?

A dentist or dental hygienist may provide further information about dental sealant treatment. The information provided will include:

  • An outline of fissure sealant treatment
  • When it is best used for children
  • How it works to prevent tooth decay and promote better oral health.

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