The chewing surface of the teeth have certain depressions called Pit and Fissures which serve as potential traps for food and bacteria making the teeth susceptible for decay. Although other factors such as dietary habits, oral hygiene and amount of sugar intake do play an important role, the Pit and Fissures have been suggested as 'the single most anatomic feature leading to the development of tooth decay'. Therefore as a preventive measure certain Pit and Fissure sealants are placed.
The decay inhibiting properties of sealants are attributed to the physical obstruction of the Pit and Grooves. This prevents penetration of fermentable sugars and the bacteria cannot produce acid that causes tooth decay.
Sealants are plastic coatings that are used to apply to the pits and fissures of a tooth surface to prevent accumulation of decay causing plaque in these areas. Sealants are applied as a flowable liquid, that flows into the pits and fissures of the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, then hardened with a high intensity dental curing light. It is a simple painless procedure requiring no anesthetic or drilling.
Fluorides have markedly reduced incidence of tooth decay in children on the smooth surfaces of teeth. 90 percent of the decay in children's teeth occurred in surfaces with pits or fissures and almost two-thirds were on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. These are the areas dental sealants protect. They have been approved for many years by professional health associations and public health agencies.