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Dental fissure sealants

4-minute read

Key facts

  • Tooth decay is common in the fissures (grooves and pits) of your teeth.
  • To prevent tooth decay, your dental practitioner can apply a protective layer called a fissure sealant to your teeth.
  • Fissure sealants reduce food and bacteria sticking to the grooves in your teeth.
  • Fissure sealants do not cause pain to apply.

What are dental fissure sealants?

The grooves and pits in your teeth are called fissures. Tooth decay is most likely to start in the fissures. Dental fissure sealants are a protective layer applied to the fissures in your teeth to prevent tooth decay.

They are most commonly applied on the top of your molars (the chewing teeth at the back of your mouth).

Fissure sealants reduce how much food and bacterial sticks to the fissures in your teeth, helping prevent:

  • early tooth decay
  • cavities

Fissure sealants are made of tooth filling material that sometimes contains fluoride. They can look white or clear.

Applying a fissure sealant is quick and painless. The procedure can be done by a dentist, a dental hygienist or an oral health therapist.

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When might I need fissure sealants?

This procedure is commonly done in:

  • children aged 6 or over
  • teenagers

Usually the procedure is done just after the teeth have grown into the mouth.

Your dentist or dental practitioner might advise you or your child to have fissure sealants if you have large grooves or pits in your teeth. This is because it can be difficult to remove food and plaque bacteria from deep fissures by brushing your teeth.

Not all children or all teeth need fissure sealants.

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What happens during a dental fissure sealants procedure?

Applying fissure sealants is a simple procedure.

Your dentist or dental practitioner will:

  • clean and dry the tooth
  • prepare the tooth surface
  • paint on the liquid fissure sealant
  • use a strong light to set and harden the sealant
  • check your bite and polish off any excess sealant
  • some materials used for fissure sealants don’t require a light to set them

No anaesthetic is needed.

What should I do after I have dental fissure sealants?

After having a dental fissure sealant procedure, you should clean your teeth as usual. Your teeth should be easier to clean after fissure sealants are applied.

Over time, the fissure sealant can wear down from chewing.

What are the benefits and risks of fissure sealants?

Sealants are a simple and effective way to reduce tooth decay. They provide extra protection from decay by covering grooves and pits that are difficult to brush.

There are no common risks with getting dental fissure sealants. However, they may need replacing.

When you have your regular check-up, your dentist or dental practitioner can check the condition of the fissure sealant. They can be replaced if needed.

You can check the cost of dental fissure sealant treatment with your dentist or dental practitioner.

What are the alternatives to fissure sealants?

Fluoride varnish applied regularly is another procedure for preventing tooth decay in children. You can ask your dentist or dental practitioner about fluoride varnish.

Resources and Support

  • Find out more about how to care for your teeth at
  • Find out how fluoride can help protect your teeth from decay.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: April 2023

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