Children’s Dentist in Richmond
Your child’s first teeth are essential for their future oral health and development. They guide the growth of facial bones and ensure their permanent adult teeth come through in the correct position and alignment. Primary, or baby teeth, are also a vital element for children sounding out words as they learn to talk and although these teeth will fall out naturally, premature childhood tooth loss will have a significant impact on their oral and general health.
Since the addition of fluoride to the water supply in the 1960s the incidence of tooth decay has reduced significantly, but we have been confronted with a new clinical problem called “fluoride bombs”. Because of the additional strength of the enamel due to fluoride, if decay does progress through the pits and fissures to the underlying dentine, the enamel itself does not breakdown so the caries go undetected. The decay penetrates microscopic cracks and develops below the enamel surface in the softer underlying dentine, and may go undetected for years. Dentists call this a “fluoride bomb” and it can almost destroy a tooth.
To combat this, especially in newly developed teeth, which are more susceptible to decay, pit and fissure sealants are used to protect the susceptible grooves.
What is a fissure sealant?
The sealant is a tooth coloured liquid similar in consistency to nail polish, which flows into the back teeth to fill the grooves and sets hard after a few minutes. This makes the tooth smooth and easier to clean, and creates a protective barrier against plaque and bacteria. The sealant also contains fluoride for added tooth protection.
At Richmond Fine Dentistry we choose to use Fuji 7 glass ionomer fissure sealant which seals and protects better than traditional resin based sealants. Furthermore, the glass ionomer sealant permits permeation of fluorides into the underlying enamel, thereby affording greater protection from decay.
How is a fissure sealant applied?
The application of the dental sealant is performed by Dr Harper or our dental hygienist and is a completely pain-free procedure that will take approximately five minutes per tooth to apply. With regular check-ups, brushing and flossing, fissure seals may last for five or more years.
When should fissure sealants be applied?
The ideal time to have sealants applied is immediately following the emergence of the first permanent molars, around age six and then subsequently after the permanent adult premolars come through, between the ages of eleven and fourteen. However, there may be occasions when primary (baby) molars require dental sealants if there is an indication of them developing tooth decay.
Who can benefit from fissure sealants?
Although primarily used on children, many adults choose to undergo fissure sealant treatment to aid in the prevention of tooth decay. Sealants cannot be applied to teeth with detectable decay, therefore following a thorough assessment appointment, Dr Harper will advise if dental sealants are a suitable treatment option for you.
It is recommended you schedule checkup appointments every six months to enable us to monitor your child’s sealed teeth, examine others for signs of decay and check the health of their gums.