How groovy are your teeth?
Having a groovy tooth may sound pretty cool and funky but unfortunately, it is not quite the case… As did you know groovy teeth can be at an increased risk of dental decay?
That is why we may recommend a fissure seal.
So, what is a fissure seal and why is having groovy teeth a concern?
At, Miranda Dental Health you may often hear us refer to teeth as having fissures or pits, or you may hear us use the term fissure seals. Maybe you have come in with one of your children and we have recommended a fissure seal.
While at, Miranda Dental Health, we always try to explain what we are seeing and what we are recommending, we know that sometimes people go home wondering or wanting to know more.
That is why we decided to write this article to hopefully answer all the questions that you may have about fissure seals.
So, let’s begin…
What is a fissure seal?
Fissure seals, also known as fissure sealants or pit and fissure sealants, are a preventative dental treatment.
Fissure seals are designed to help protect your teeth, by reducing a tooth’s risk of dental decay (holes). They work by applying a protective layer over the top surface of your tooth, or in areas where there may be naturally formed deep pits on a tooth.
This helps to create a smoother surface on the tooth, to reduce the risk of bacteria and food from getting caught in the fissures (grooves) and pits of your teeth. But it can also make it easier for you to keep the tooth clean and healthy.
Where are the fissures and pits on a tooth?
If you run your tongue along the top chewing surfaces of your back teeth you will feel lots of little lumps and bumps. The fissures are those grooves or the valleys, and the pits that you can feel with your tongue.
They are most common on your molar or premolar teeth towards the back of your mouth.
However, these grooves and pits can sometimes be on the side surfaces of your teeth too. It is just the anatomy of the tooth and is the result of the way in which the tooth has formed.
Why are deep pits and fissures a concern?
When a tooth develops and is formed, sometimes they have naturally occurring deep fissures and pits.
If they are too deep, then it can be hard for you to keep them clean. But it also can be easy for food and decay-causing bacteria to get caught in the fissures and pits. This can cause irreversible damage to the tooth, known as dental decay, which sometimes people refer to as holes.
And if or when a tooth is damaged it means that more extensive dental treatment may be necessary to remove the decay and to fix the tooth. For example, you may need to get a filling.
This is why when a tooth has deep pits or fissures, we want to try and cover or protect it to reduce the risk of dental decay.
How are deep pits and fissures diagnosed?
Sometimes you may notice that your tooth has a deep pit or fissure, as food, especially small seeds, may get stuck in them when you eat. But usually, we (your dentist) will be the first to notice.
During your routine dental check-up or examination, we may see the deep pit or fissure when we dry your tooth. Or we may notice it when we run a dental probe, which has a small pointed end, over your teeth. If the probe gets stuck or caught it may be a sign that the tooth has a deep pit or fissures.
How is a fissure seal done?
Once we recommend a fissure seal, we may want to take an x-ray (radiograph) of the tooth. This is just to check that no bacteria has already gotten inside the tooth.
We will then prepare the tooth for the fissure seal by thoroughly cleaning the tooth and preparing the surface of the tooth. This helps to remove and ensure that there is no bacteria or plaque on the tooth’s surface. It also helps the fissure sealant material to stick (bond) to the tooth’s surface.
We will then flow the fissure sealant material over the prepared surface. During this time, it is important that the tooth remains dry, so that the tooth is not contaminated by saliva.
Once the fissure sealant material has covered all the grooves and pits, it is time for it to set or cure.
Some fissure sealant materials set by themselves, which takes about 45-60 seconds. While others may require a special light to help cure the material.
Once set, we will check the surface to ensure that all areas are covered, and that the material has fully cured.
We will then check your bite (occlusion). This helps to make sure that the fissure seal is not going to be too high or uncomfortable. But if it is too high we can smooth and polish the sealant making it more comfortable for you.
How long does it take to get a fissure seal?
Fissure sealants are a common and simple dental procedure. Often it takes us only about 10-15minutes to complete. It is much quicker and easier than having a filling done!
What are the advantages of a fissure seal?
Fissure seals are generally a painless and simple dental procedure. And unlike fillings, they are done on healthy teeth.
Fissure seals are also quite inexpensive, when compared to the cost of a filling, or other dental restorations.
Plus, they should not even require any numbing (local anaesthetic).
The other great advantage of a fissure seal is that they make it easier to keep your tooth clean. As it seals off those little grooves and pits which can be hard for your toothbrush to get in to, yet easy for decay-causing bacteria to hide in.
Should all teeth be fissure sealed?
No. Not all teeth need to be fissured sealed. Dr Paul Sojka is the best person to advise you on if your tooth needs one.
At, Miranda Dental Health, we like to consider a few things to determine if they are necessary; this includes:
- Your risk factors for dental decay (holes)
- Your previous decay history
- How deep the fissures and pits are
- Any developmental abnormalities, such as enamel hypoplasia
- How easy it is for you to clean the fissures and pits of your tooth.
How do you care for a tooth with a fissure seal?
Just because a tooth has been sealed, it does not mean that it is no longer at risk of dental decay. It is still just as important that you care for your tooth, and the rest of your mouth too for that matter.
- Brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste
- Cleaning in between your teeth at least once a day (e.g. flossing)
- Limiting your intake of sugary and acidic foods and drinks
- Limiting snacking
- Keeping hydrated with water
- Having regular dental check-ups
How long does a fissure seal last?
It is really difficult to predict how long a fissure seal may last. This is because everyone uses their mouth differently.
For example, if you grind your teeth or eat a lot of sticky foods, there is a greater risk that the fissure seal may wear out or come out.
However, at Miranda Dental Health we have seen some fissures that patients have had for over 15 years!
What age are fissure seals done?
Fissure seals can be done on someone at any age.
However, at Miranda Dental Health, we most commonly do them on newly erupted adult (permanent) molars. So, when children are around the age of 6 and 12 years old, when these permanent molars generally erupt.
The other reason they are also more commonly done on children, is because when we are young, we may not be as good with our oral hygiene habits.
Fissure seals though can also be done on baby (deciduous) teeth, not just adult teeth. As they are a preventative dental treatment, if a child has a high risk of dental disease or the baby teeth have deep fissures, then we may recommend that baby molars be sealed as well.
What colour are fissure seals?
Fissure sealant materials are usually white. So, once they are done, they will generally match the colour of your tooth. This makes if it hard for you or someone else to know that they are there.
However, there is a coloured fissure sealant material. It is used if we want to do a temporary sealant or if we are wanting to use a material which has a greater release of fluoride. But at Miranda Dental Health, we would always let you know first before we did a coloured fissure sealant.
Do fissure seals need replacing?
Unfortunately fissures seals can wear out over time or debond from the tooth surface.
If a fissure seal comes out or starts to wear, then they may require replacing. However, this is quite simple and easy to do. Dr Sojka will let you know if this is the case.
Sometimes though, if the fissure seal comes out, we may not even need to replace it. As your risk factors for dental disease may have changed from when it was initially placed.
Can a tooth which has fissure seal still get a hole?
While a fissure seal is designed to reduce the risk of decay and holes in teeth, it cannot be guaranteed.
Sometimes bacteria can still infiltrate underneath a fissure seal. An x-ray will help to show if bacteria is getting underneath the fissure seal. If this happens then a filling may be needed to remove the decay and damaged tooth structure.
Additionally, other surfaces of your tooth are still at risk of dental decay. For example, a tooth may have a fissure seal on the top, biting surface but you can still get a hole on the side or in between your teeth if the bacteria are not removed and they cause damage to the tooth.
What is an invasive fissure seal?
An invasive fissure seal is very similar to a general fissure seal. The difference however is that we may need to open (drill) the fissures first to make them wider before they seal the tooth.
This helps to check that no bacteria has already gotten inside the tooth or any stained areas are removed. It can also help ensure the sealant will stick to the tooth, as room is created for it.
An invasive fissure can almost be thought of as a preventative filling procedure.
Well, that wraps up our article on pit and fissure seals.
Hopefully it has helped to answer any questions that you may have.
However, if you have any further questions or concerns then the team at,
Miranda Dental Health, would be more than happy to discuss them with you.
So, we invite you to contact the practice on 02 9524 7080
to arrange an appointment with Dr Sojka.
From all the team at, Miranda Dental Health, we thank you
for taking the time to read this article.
But also… don’t forget to check back regularly as we continue to
explore dental matters that matter to you!
- Fissure sealants are often referred to as fissure seals or pit and fissure seals.
- Fissure sealants are a common and simple preventative dental procedure for healthy teeth.
- Fissures seals are designed to reduce your risk of dental decay.
- Fissures sealants are generally done on newly erupted teeth but can be done at any age and on baby teeth too.
- You still need to care for your tooth, even if it has been fissure sealed.
- Fissure seals are not necessary for all teeth and Dr Sojka is the best person to advise you if your tooth needs to be sealed.
- Henry Schein Halas. Fuji 7. URL: https://henryschein.com.au/restorative-and-cosmetic/glass-ionomers/auto-cure/fuji-7-capsules-pink-box-of-50’. Accessed November 2019.
- American Dental Association. Oral health topics: dental sealants. 2019. URL:‘https://www.ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/dental-sealants#sealants’. Accessed November 2019.
- Health Direct. Dental fissure sealants. 2018. URL:‘https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/dental-fissure-sealants’. Accessed November 2019.
- Dental Health Services Victoria. Fillings and sealants. URL:‘https://www.dhsv.org.au/dental-health/teeth-tips-and-facts/fillings-and-sealants’. Accessed: November 2019.
- Simonsen R J. Pit and fissure sealant: review of the literature. Pediatric dentistry 2002;24;5:393-414. Accessed Nov 2019.