Tooth decay in the back teeth

Your back teeth are more likely to get a cavity than other teeth because they’re full of deep grooves and depressions called pits and fissures. Food and bacteria often get trapped in these grooves and cause tooth decay. In fact, more than 75% of dental decay begins in these pit and fissure areas of the back teeth.

Unfortunately, not even a single toothbrush bristle can reach all the way into these grooves and depressions to remove food particles, bacteria and plaque. So no matter how often you brush your teeth, you can still get cavities in these areas.

A toothbrush can't reach the grooves of your back teeth
A toothbrush can’t reach the grooves of your back teeth
Grooves of back teeth sealed with a fissure sealant
Grooves of back teeth sealed with a fissure sealant

How do we prevent tooth decay in these areas?

Every time you visit Island Dental for your preventive hygienist care and dental check up, we will examine the pits and fissures of your teeth and measure them with the Diagnodent to ensure that they are treated before they become cavities.

The best protection for the biting surfaces of your back teeth is a treatment called pit and fissure sealants.

What are fissure sealants?

Sealants are thin plastic coatings applied to the pits and fissures, which flows to the depth of the grooves, sealing out decay-causing bacteria.

Are sealants suitable for all teeth?

No. Sealants are applied only to pit and fissure areas of specific teeth. Unfortunately, they can’t be applied to surfaces in-between teeth. Instead, daily flossing is recommended to prevent decay.

When is the best time to place sealants?

Though sealants are most often applied to childrens teeth, many adults are now seeking the preventive benefit of sealants as well.

In children, to prevent decay, the best time to place a sealant is just after the back tooth erupts and is clear of soft tissue.

How are sealants applied?

Applying sealants is a very simple, painless procedure that only takes a few minutes.

  1. Preparation: First, the grooves of the tooth are cleaned and dried. A solution is applied to the chewing surface of the tooth to condition the enamel and help it bond more effectively to the sealant material. The tooth is thoroughly washed and dried.
  2. Bonding: A bonding resin is placed on the etched surface, then it’s set by a special light.
  3. Sealing: The sealant material is applied and set by the same light.

Do fissure sealants last?

Yes, in dental studies, a single sealant application has shown to last for seven years or more. Research has shown that as long as a sealant remains in place and intact, the chewing surface is protected from cavities.

The longevity of sealants depends on factors like your chewing patterns, grinding habits and your diet. Occasionally, we might need to replace or add a new layer of sealant material to keep the protective barrier strong and effective.

It’s important that sealants be checked routinely to make sure that they remain intact.

Why is sealing a tooth better than filling a cavity?

Sealants help maintain sound teeth. Decay destroys the structure of the tooth, so each time a tooth is filled or a filling is replaced, additional tooth structure is lost. Sealants save time, money and the need for restorative dental procedures. Sealants are a simple, pain-free, cost-effective treatment to prevent tooth decay in certain areas of the mouth.

Talk to our dentists about how to prevent tooth decay in back teeth with sealants – for you or your children. To book an appointment, call us now at Island Dental on (08) 8449 9777.

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