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Protecting Molar Surfaces

October 2nd, 2010

The chewing surfaces of the molar teeth are made more effective by an irregular pattern of grooves and protuberances (called pits, fissures, and cusps) which allow you to properly grind your food.  However, these pits and fissures can often become a very      susceptible place for the entrapment of food debris.  This food debris can lead to the production of bacterial plaque, which can then lead to the formation of a cavity on the biting surface of the molar.  Pit and fissure sealants are an effective means of protecting these surfaces and preventing decay.  In molars where the pits and fissures are deep and difficult to keep clean, the sealant will “block out” the deepest areas, making it more difficult for the bacterial plaque to stick to the tooth’s biting surface.

Most dentists recommend sealants as regular preventive treatment for children when the first molars are erupted.  The procedure is relatively simple and completely painless.  The tooth is thoroughly cleansed, a special etchant is placed on the enamel, liquid plastic is flowed into the pits and fissures, and a special light source is used to allow the plastic to harden and adhere to the tooth.  Sealants usually last for several years, and should be replaced when they wear out.  Although nothing is 100 %  effective in the prevention of cavities, sealants have proven to be an extremely safe way of minimizing the formation of cavities on the biting surfaces of certain teeth.

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