Braces versus Retainers: A Comprehensive Overveiw

Braces versus Retainers: A Comprehensive Overveiw

Dental Fissure Sealants: Are They Suitable For Your Child?

by Lonnie Bryant

Keeping the teeth, gums and general oral health of your children in top condition is a priority for any good parent, and modern paediatric  and family dentistry, at places likes Thomas Aulsebrook & Associates, affords a range of ways you can help keep your child's teeth strong and free from decay. One procedure that has become more popular in recent years is the application of dental fissure sealants to a child's teeth, to protect them from dental caries and damage.

What are fissure sealants?

Put simply, fissure sealants are semi-permanent coatings that are applied to the molars and pre-molars; the coating provides a durable barrier between bacterial biofilm and the enamel of the coated teeth, and prevents the development of tooth decay and cavities for as long as the coating remains fully intact. The coating is invisible and non-toxic, and is generally made from one of three materials:

  • Plastic resin - The original fissure sealant material, resin is cheaper than other options, but can be vulnerable to bacterial breakdown if applied improperly. Some resin sealants contain the controversial polymer BPA.
  • Glass ionomer - Glass ionomer coatings contain fluoride, making them even more effective at preventing tooth decay than resin coatings. However, they tend to perish considerably sooner than resin treatments.
  • Hybrid coatings - A range of coatings that contain both resin and glass ionomer are available. Each formulation has its own set of properties and retention rates, so consult your dentist thoroughly before choosing this option.

The longevity of a fissure sealant treatment depends upon the material used, and how much punishment the coated teeth take. A well-applied treatment, combined with good dental hygiene practices, can last five years or more, but eventually the sealant will wear down and become compromised. Fissure sealants are not applied to the front teeth, as they do not possess the pits and recesses that characterise molars and leave them more vulnerable to hidden tooth decay.

Are fissure sealants suitable for my child?

Fissure sealant applications are an elective procedure, and are by no means mandatory for preventing tooth decay in children. They also do not mean that your child can safely neglect good dental hygiene practises, and provide no protection for gum tissue or the front teeth. However, if you can afford the expense of treatment, most children will benefit from fissure sealants. This is especially true for children who have a higher risk of developing tooth decay, such as:

  • Children with physical or cognitive difficulties - disabled children often have problems cleaning their teeth effectively, even with assistance. Fissure sealants protect areas of the back teeth that may be missed, for instance due to poor brushing caused by restricted movement.
  • Children with congenital dental defects - Genetic abnormalities can cause some children to possess thin or fragile tooth enamel, and fissure sealants can provide them with extra protection. However, children with conditions such as Turner's hypoplasia may not be able to undergo fissure sealing, as the coating cannot be applied to exposed dentin.
  • Children whose adult teeth have erupted unusually early - Fissure sealants are only applied to adult teeth for obvious reasons, but if your child's adult teeth have appeared before they can fully grasp how to take care of their teeth, fissure sealants can help make up for initially poor dental hygiene.
  • Children who wear orthodontic appliances, such as braces or retainers - These devices can be havens for decay-causing bacteria, especially if cleaned poorly.


About Me

Braces versus Retainers: A Comprehensive Overveiw

There are more than two ways to straighten a smile, and in this blog, I plan to discuss them all. I plan to look at the differences between braces and retainers and explain why sometimes you may need them both. I look at the differences in cost, time commitment and efficacy. Personally, I have had a bit of experience with this subject – I had braces as a young teen, and I had a permanent retainer. In this blog, I discuss what I have learned, and I present all kinds of new information on the topic. Whether you are trying to make decisions for yourself or your child. I hope you find this information useful.