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Fissure sealants

How can fissure sealants help to protect my child's teeth?Fissure sealants reduce the chance of cavities in your children

We receive a lot of questions from parents who suspect their children have decay, asking what it means, what they need to do and how they can prevent other teeth, or their other children, from getting any further decay.

Kids baby teeth are important (read on to find out why) so we put together this three part article series on my Top 3 ways to prevent decay in your kids teeth: through fissure sealants, cleaning and diet.

Kids: loosing the back molar teeth to decay is not good

Some parents will ask us why it is so important to keep their child’s back teeth when they are ‘just their baby teeth’. In fact, the back teeth in children, some of which are be kept till age 13, play an important role as space holders and as a ‘guidance system’ for adult teeth.

If a back tooth is decayed and lost early, then there are a whole range of complications that can occur. These complications include the space closing, the adult molars drifting forward etc. which for parents can mean longer and more costly Orthodontic work to correct.

Fissure sealants and deep grooves


Both adult and children’s molars are susceptible to these ‘decay-inducing’ deep grooves

One common site for decay in children is in the deep grooves in their back teeth. There’s a lot of anatomical variation in the:

  • Anatomy of these grooves
  • Fineness of the grooves
  • Depth of each groove
  • Imperfections in the way the enamel forms in these grooves. Together these factors can make it impossible for these teeth to be cleaned properly – if nothing is done these teeth will end up with cavities, regardless of how well they are cleaned and cared for.

Are baby teeth any more susceptible to deep grooves than adult teeth?

Both adult and children’s molars are susceptible to these ‘decay-inducing’ deep grooves. As a matter of fact adult teeth are often more susceptible than the first teeth. Although there is no concrete evidence to support deep grooves being hereditary. I have notices that members of the same family often have a similar depth of groove between siblings.

The trouble with decay in molars

The trouble with the grooves in the teeth and fissures in teeth is that X-Rays are very ineffective at picking up cavities. We usually won’t see the cavity on the X-Ray until the cavity is quite large because the tooth is generally quite thick in this area. For the decay to be observable it needs to be a couple of millimetres in diameter before it will show because the other tooth structure blocks it out.

TD_Little_Patients-150x150Modern technology benefits early decay detection in kids

Luckily for our patients we have a couple of bits of technology that are able to show those things with a great deal of accuracy, and much earlier than an X-Ray.

The two bits of technology that help us diagnose decay early are:

  1. Our SoPro Intraoral camera uses a special LED light that makes the bacteria which causes decay to turn fluorescent pink. The rest of the tooth looks greeny-white and the bacteria causing the decay looks pink and this means that it is possible to assess things and see whether the tooth needs treatment or not. If there is a groove and that groove is stained doesn’t always mean that it needs treatment.
  2. The other tool is the Kavo Diagno Cam which is very new in dentistry. It uses a near-infrared laser light to shine on the tooth from both sides. A special camera then allows us to see whether there is decay in the tooth.

Neither of these technologies emit any radiation so they are safe for use to use on our child patients at every visit. Although nothing is ever 100% certain these technologies allow us to be very discerning with our judgement of which teeth need treatment and when.

Used alongside X-rays, which we use to show the areas between the teeth, we can achieve a greater level of accuracy with regards to the different parts of the tooth where decay will usually crop up.

Read part two of our article series on preventing decay in kids teeth.

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