Dental sealants are recognised by children’s dentists as an effective approach to prevent or control pit and fissure decay in children and adolescents.
A dental sealant is a light-cured plastic coating that prevents bacteria from entering the pits and fissures in the teeth. Bacteria would otherwise live in these grooves, producing acid and leading to decay.
A 2013 Cochrane Review found evidence to suggest that, where there is risk of decay in children and adolescents, this is prevented by pit and fissure sealants on occlusal surfaces of permanent molar teeth (the surfaces that come into contact with those of the teeth above or below).
When teeth are erupting they can be difficult to access, particularly between ages 6 and 12, when a child is still developing dexterity and learning the importance of cleaning their teeth. According to Dental Health Services Victoria, an ideal time to apply fissure sealants is soon after permanent teeth erupt. The first permanent molar teeth erupt into the mouth when a child is around 6 years old.
At Smile Solutions we have a highly qualified paediatric dentist and oral health therapists who all specialise in children’s dentistry. They can assist in detecting decay risk and providing a recommendation for your child. In addition, the following chart sets out the eruption stages of permanent teeth; this can be used by parents to monitor their child’s mouth.
Ideally, pit and fissure sealants are placed with care by either a paediatric dentist or an oral health therapist and are maintained with regular examination. While there is evidence to suggest that teeth treated with pit and fissure sealants experience less decay than teeth with no sealants for up to 48 months, maintenance is fundamental to successful retention and effective decay prevention. Pit and fissure sealants are not immune from bacterial leakage, therefore any imperfections and wear need to be detected at the routine dental exam.
In summary, dental sealants are widely recognised as an effective prevention of dental decay in permanent molar teeth in children and adolescents. Retention and effectiveness of dental sealants depends on maintenance. Maintenance includes regular examination, good oral hygiene, use of fluoridated toothpaste, and diet.