Pit and Fissure Sealants (Tooth Protective Coating): A Comprehensive Guide to Protecting Your Teeth

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Maintaining good oral health is crucial for overall well-being, and preventive dental care plays a significant role in keeping your teeth and gums healthy. One valuable yet often overlooked preventive measure is the use of pit and fissure sealants. This in-depth blog post will educate you about the benefits of pit and fissure sealants, explain the application process, and discuss how they can help protect your teeth from decay and cavities.

The Problem: Tooth Decay and Cavities

Tooth decay is a pervasive oral health issue that affects millions of people worldwide, regardless of age. It occurs when bacteria in your mouth produce acids that gradually wear away tooth enamel, eventually leading to cavities. Pits and fissures are the deep grooves found on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, primarily the molars and premolars. These grooves can easily trap food particles and bacteria, making them prime spots for tooth decay to develop. When left unchecked, tooth decay can cause pain, tooth sensitivity, and may even lead to tooth loss.

What Are Pit and Fissure Sealants?

Photos of teeth showing locations of pits and fissures and sealant applied

Pit and fissure sealants are a preventive dental treatment designed to protect teeth from decay and cavities. They are made from a plastic or resin material that is applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. This material fills in the pits and fissures, creating a smooth, easy-to-clean surface. The sealant acts as a barrier, preventing bacteria and food particles from getting trapped in the grooves, thereby reducing the risk of tooth decay. In addition to being an effective preventive measure, pit and fissure sealants are painless, non-invasive, and can be applied quickly during a routine dental visit.

The Sealant Application Process

Pitts and Fissures infographic, from your trusted dental team in Lansdowne VA

The process of applying pit and fissure sealants is simple, painless, and can be completed during a regular dental check-up. Here’s an overview of the steps involved in the application process:

  • Tooth cleaning: The dentist or dental hygienist will first clean the tooth surface thoroughly to remove any debris, plaque, or tartar. This step ensures that the sealant adheres properly to the tooth.
  • Etching: An etching solution is applied to the tooth’s chewing surface to roughen it up slightly. This process increases the surface area, allowing the sealant material to bond more effectively with the tooth enamel.
  • Rinsing and drying: After etching, the tooth is rinsed and dried to prepare it for the sealant application.
  • Sealant application: The dentist or dental hygienist carefully applies the sealant material to the pits and fissures, filling them in completely. They will take care to ensure that the material covers all grooves and does not leave any air bubbles.
  • Curing: A dental curing light is used to harden the sealant, creating a durable protective layer. This step is crucial in ensuring the sealant’s longevity and effectiveness.

Who Can Benefit from Pit and Fissure Sealants?

Pit and fissure sealants are particularly beneficial for children and teenagers, as their permanent molars and premolars are most susceptible to decay shortly after they erupt. Applying sealants early can provide long-lasting protection against cavities, setting them up for a lifetime of healthy teeth.

Adults without fillings or decay in their molars and premolars can also benefit from sealants. While adults may have established oral hygiene habits, sealants offer an extra layer of protection against tooth decay, especially in hard-to-reach areas of the mouth.

The Lifespan and Maintenance of Pit and Fissure Sealants

Pit and fissure sealants can last for several years, but their longevity can vary depending on factors such as oral hygiene habits, the wear and tear of chewing, and the quality of the sealant material. It’s essential to maintain regular dental check-ups so that your dentist can assess the condition of the sealants and reapply them as needed.

It’s important to remember that sealants are not a substitute for proper oral hygiene. Regular brushing, flossing, and dental cleanings are still essential for maintaining good oral health. Sealants are an additional tool that can significantly reduce the risk of tooth decay when used in conjunction with proper oral hygiene practices.

Frequently Asked Questions about Pit and Fissure Sealants

  • Are sealants safe? Yes, pit and fissure sealants are considered safe and effective in preventing tooth decay. The materials used in sealants have been extensively tested and are approved for dental use. They are non-toxic and do not cause any adverse reactions in most patients.
  • Can sealants be used on teeth with existing decay or fillings? Sealants are not meant to treat existing decay or replace fillings. However, your dentist may recommend applying sealants to other teeth that are at risk of developing decay. In some cases, if a small area of decay is detected in a pit or fissure, the dentist may remove the decay and then apply a sealant to protect the tooth from further damage.
  • Do insurance plans typically cover the cost of sealants? Many dental insurance plans cover the cost of sealants, particularly for children and teenagers. It’s always best to check with your specific insurance provider to determine coverage. Even if your insurance doesn’t cover sealants, the cost is generally quite affordable, especially considering the potential savings from avoiding future dental treatments for decay and cavities.
  • Can sealants replace the need for regular dental cleanings and check-ups? No, sealants are a preventive measure and should not replace regular dental cleanings and check-ups. They are an additional tool in maintaining good oral health, but it’s still crucial to practice proper oral hygiene and visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and examinations.


Pit and fissure sealants are an effective preventive dental treatment that can protect your teeth from decay and cavities. They are especially beneficial for children and teenagers, but adults can also take advantage of this protective measure. Remember, sealants are not a substitute for regular dental care, but they can significantly reduce the risk of tooth decay when used in conjunction with proper oral hygiene practices.

About Dental Innovations of Virginia

Dr. Joon Coe, Dr. Julie Coe, and the rest of the DIVA team look forward to helping you achieve a brighter smile and the highest possible dental health. We’re conveniently located in Lansdowne’s Riverside Office Park at 19490 Sandridge Way, Suite 160, Lansdowne, VA 20176. We’re open Monday through Friday from 9am to 6pm.

If you’re interested in learning more about pit and fissure sealants or want to schedule an appointment to discuss whether they’re right for you or your child, don’t hesitate to contact us. By investing in preventive measures like pit and fissure sealants, you’re taking a proactive approach to ensuring your teeth remain strong and healthy for years to come.