Pit and Fissure Sealants
Apart from improving our looks and facial esthetics, one of the major functions of our teeth is to chew food and help in its digestion. Molars have wide chewing surfaces, and for efficient grinding of food these surfaces have what we call “pits and fissures”. Due to the presence of these depressions and elevations present on the surfaces of our back teeth surface, food particles tend to get trapped in, despite regular brushing. These pits and fissures which are helpful during chewing, tend to become troublesome under certain conditions.
After we have eaten, food particles are more likely to adhere to these tooth surfaces trapped within the pits and fissures. Because of their uneven shape and rear-ward location, these surfaces are more difficult to clean. Bacteria get time to convert these food particles to acid which makes the local environment in the mouth more acidic. Enamel in these pits and fissures tends to get demineralized. As a result, chewing surfaces of molars are more likely to develop cavities than other tooth surfaces. This is particularly true in case of children who have smaller sized molars, and may not clean their teeth properly.
A popular and convenient solution is the use of dental sealants. Your dentist will decide whether sealants will benefit you. Children’s molars are often covered with dental sealants by their dentist or hygienist. These are, essentially, plastic shells painted onto molar surfaces. Since food does not come in contact with the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, dental sealants tend to eliminate the chances of developing childhood caries in the molar and premolar teeth.
It is a very short, simple and painless procedure. The dentist or hygienist cleans the surfaces thoroughly and dries them. The liquid sealant is then applied so that it flows over the surfaces evening out the depressions well. When dried, and hardened with IR light, it forms a very thin seal over the surface. Dental pit and fissure sealants need to be replaced after 2-3 years.
Unless there is already a cavity on the tooth, your dentist or hygienist will suggest that you apply sealants on the child’s molars (adults can also get them). If it has not been suggested, you can always ask.
Most dental insurances, including Medicaid, cover sealants. If you do not have dental insurance, do not worry. Sealants are usually inexpensive, and you can also plan it with your clinic to do 2 at a time.
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