Fissure Seals

Preventative Care Starts Here

What are fissure sealants?

Dental fissure sealants are a protective layer applied to the chewing teeth (the molars) to reduce tooth decay. Applying a sealant is quick and painless. A sealant is most commonly applied to the grooves, known as fissures, and pits of the back molars. These are the most common locations for cavities in the teeth. The procedure can be done by a dentist, a dental hygienist, or an oral health therapist.

Fissure sealants are a thin, protective coating (white or clear composite resin, similar to a white tooth filling) that adheres to the chewing surface of your back teeth. They’re no substitute for brushing and flossing, but they can keep cavities from forming and may even stop early stages of decay from becoming a full-blown cavity.

In fact, sealants have been shown to reduce the risk of decay by nearly 80% in molars. This is especially important when it comes to your child’s dental health. In October 2016, the Centers for Disease Control (2) released a report on the importance of sealants.


When might someone need fissure sealants?

Your dentist might advise you to have fissure sealants if you have large grooves or pits in your teeth. However, you should discuss with your dentist whether or not they are necessary. Not all teeth with fissures need sealants.

Some dentists will recommend sealants for the first molar teeth, which appear at around 6 years of age. The back teeth (second and third molars) emerge at around 13 years and should be checked to see whether sealants might help. Some adults also get sealants.

Your dentist might even recommend a sealant if there is already some tooth decay. The sealant can help limit future decay.


What happens during a dental fissure sealant procedure?

Having fissure sealants applied is a quick and painless procedure. It usually takes a few minutes per tooth and is less complicated than having a cavity filling. There is no need for anesthetic and usually no drilling. Your dental practitioner will:

  • Clean and dry the tooth
  • Prepare the tooth surface so that the sealant bonds well
  • Paint on the liquid sealant, which will flow into the deep grooves and pits
    bond and harden the sealant with a strong light
  • Check your bite and polish off any excess sealant

What to expect after a dental fissure sealant procedure?

You should clean your teeth as usual and practice good oral hygiene. Your teeth will be easier to clean because the brush will reach all surfaces. Sometimes the sealant falls off — this will usually happen within 6 months. It is a good idea to visit the dentist regularly so they can make sure the sealant is in good condition as part of your routine dental check-up. It can wear down over the years and will then need to be reapplied.


Benefits and risks of fissure sealants

Sealants are a simple and effective means to reduce tooth decay. They provide extra protection from decay, even to those who drink fluoridated water and brush with fluoride toothpaste. The fluoride in water and toothpaste doesn’t easily reach into deep grooves or pits. Even the bristles of a toothbrush might not reach that far.

Complications are rare but may include an allergic reaction to the sealant, or a change in your bite if the sealant layer is thick. With the exception of an allergy that may exist, there are no known side effects from sealants.


How Long Do Sealants Last?

Sealants will often last for several years before they need to be reapplied. During your regular dental visit, your dentist will check the condition of the sealant and can reapply them as needed.

Cited from: 

  1. ADA; 14.10.20
  2. CDC:



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