What are pit and fissures?

Pits (small depression) and fissures (grooves) are present on the biting surfaces of molars and premolar (back teeth). These are the ideal sites for harboring dental plaque and calculus which contains bacteria. This part of teeth is often very difficult to clean as the bristles on the toothbrush are not able to get in the deepest part of these. If the cleaning is not done properly there are chances of decay. This is especially true when the teeth first come through between the ages of 6 to 13.

What are pit and fissure sealants?

Pits and fissure sealants are white, thin plastic coating painted on the pits and fissures which “seal” these decay-prone areas. As these areas are sealed, bacteria are not able to go deep into grooves and there is much less chance of decay to develop. Sealants also make the pits and fissures easier to clean during brushing and chewing, as food particles do not get trapped as easily.

When are pit and fissure sealants applied?

These are applied when the permanent teeth start to come through, sealants need to be applied which is generally when 6 to 7 years old between 11 and 14 years of age, the others can be sealed as soon as they start to appear.

The process involved is generally quick and takes a few minutes per tooth. The tooth is first properly cleaned, prepared with a special solution, and is then dried. The liquid sealant is then applied and allowed to set hard- usually by shining ultraviolet light onto it.