Do You Need To Get Fissure Sealants?

Fissure sealants are a popular dental treatment that can help keep the teeth protected by forming a physical barrier on top of their biting surfaces. They’re only used for the teeth at the back of the mouth because they’re the ones that can be most difficult to clean owing to their grooves.

However, by creating shallower pits and fissures and making the surface relatively smoother, it can help keep the enamel of the tooth intact, saving you time and money on expensive restorative treatments.

What Is A Fissure Sealant?

Fissure sealants are a preventative treatment that can help protect your teeth against cavities and tooth decay by forming a protective barrier. These sealants are applied to the pits and fissures on the chewing or biting surfaces of the teeth, which can be susceptible to decay due to the food and bacteria getting stuck in them.

tooth surface

Such grooves within the tooth’s surface can be difficult to keep clean, which can then lead to enamel damage and tooth decay. However, to prevent this from happening, these pits and fissures can be sealed with the help of these plastic coatings.

And you don’t need to delay the application of these sealants either. In fact, they can be placed as soon as the permanent teeth start to erupt, which is between the ages of 6 and 7, according to the Oral Health Foundation.

Also, sealants are not just preventative. They can also be protective. As noted by a study published in the Hungarian Journal of Dentistry (Fogorvosi szemle), a fissure sealant can also stop the progression of dental caries and where there is a higher risk of developing caries, sealing of the tooth surface can reduce treatment costs.

fissure sealant
Image credit: Piszko, Aleksandra et al. “Brief Narrative Review on Commercial Dental Sealants-Comparison with Respect to Their Composition and Potential Modifications.” Materials (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 16,19 6453. 28 Sep. 2023, doi:10.3390/ma16196453/CC BY 4.0

Keep in mind, however, that even though fissure sealants can make the surface of your tooth relatively smoother while making it easier to clean, it is not a substitute for toothbrushing and flossing. You still need to do both for the health of your teeth.

What Are The Types of Fissure Sealants?

There are two types of fissure sealants based on the materials from which they’re made:

  1. Resin-based
  2. Glass ionomer.

Resin-based sealants are more popular and have been traditionally used because they can be retained for longer, and they also have a “cariostatic effect” (ability to stop dental caries from developing), according to a study published in Dental Research Journal.

However, the same research also notes the difficulty that can arise in the application of resin sealants as they require stringent moisture control (dry, saliva-free environment) when being applied. With glass ionomer, this isn’t a problem and additionally, this type of sealant releases fluoride, which may help in the prevention of tooth decay.

But as noted above, resin can be more durable, which is why it’s best if you discuss your needs and goals with your dentist.

Glass and resin sealants
“Resin (sealant) in Upper right and lower Left molars and Glass Ionomer in Upper left and Lower right molars” – Alkhodairi, Asem et al. “Clinical Evaluation of the Retention of Resin and Glass Ionomer Sealants Applied as a Part of School-Based Caries Prevention Program.” Open access Macedonian journal of medical sciences vol. 7,23 4127-4130. 13 Dec. 2019, doi:10.3889/oamjms.2019.869/CC BY-NC 4.0 

Are Fissure Sealants Safe?

Fissure sealants are considered safe. Additionally, they’re also considered quite effective for their ability to protect the teeth from caries, and prevent them from developing or spreading further.

Resin-based sealant reduced tooth decay “by between 11% and 51%” and was more effective in preventing teeth from decay than having no dental sealant.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews – July 2017

Are Fissure Sealants Necessary?

While it is recommended that fissure sealants be applied with the eruption of permanent teeth, they’re not always considered necessary. Still, you should further consult with your dentist about how you can best protect the teeth of your child.

How Are Fissure Sealants Applied?

Steps involving the application of a fissure sealant may include:

  1. A thorough cleaning of the tooth
  2. Etching of the tooth using phosphoric acid (left on for some seconds)
  3. Washing off of the acid and then drying the tooth
  4. Applying a special adhesive
  5. Putting the sealant on and hardening it by shining a light
  6. Checking the tooth for any excess or bonding issues
Light shining on tooth

The application of a sealant on a single tooth might not take more than a few minutes.

Do Fissure Sealants Hurt?

The application of fissure sealants is not painful. And since it does not hurt, no anaesthesia is needed during the procedure either.

How Long Do Fissure Sealants Last?

Fissure sealants can last for years, but their longevity may vary depending on the material from which it is made. Resin sealants have been reported to have a retention rate of 80% after a couple of years, and glass ionomer is almost half of it at just 44%, as noted in a 2023 review published in Frontiers in Oral Health.

It is important that you get regular dental check-ups so that your dentist can make sure that your dental sealant is still doing its job effectively or if it needs to be fixed or replaced. It can help catch a problem early on.

How Much Are Fissure Sealants In The UK?

In the UK, a fissure sealant on a single tooth might cost you somewhere between £50 to £60. It may be higher or lower than that and may depend on the material used, the number of teeth treated, the location of the clinic, and the experience and qualifications of your practitioner.

What Band Are Fissure Sealants?

Fissure sealants are available on the NHS, and it’s part of the Band 1, which is priced at £26.80. You can get it as a preventative treatment there.


Fissure sealant can be a particularly useful dental treatment to ensure the health of the teeth by protecting them from decay or preventing it altogether. The treatment is also fairly straightforward and does not cause any pain. It can also save you costs on expensive treatments down the road. Therefore, it can be a good idea to consult your dentist about them.

Reviewed and approved by Dr Izbel Aksit


Are fissure sealants permanent?

Fissure sealants are not considered permanent. They are, however, said to be able to last for quite a few years. It can depend on the material used and how well you take care of your teeth.

Can fissure sealants fall out?

Dental sealants can fail, especially if there is an issue with their application. To ensure the health of the underlying tooth, it’s a good idea to have regular dental check-ups. That way, if a problem develops, it can be treated early on.

Are fissure sealants good?

Fissure sealants can be quite effective and good for the teeth in that they can protect them from cavities, prevent them and stop their spread.

Should adults get fissure sealants?

Since fissure sealants are preventative, they have been recommended for use among the teeth of adults as well. However, you can further talk to your dentist about whether or not it will be good for you.

What is the difference between a filling and a dental sealant?

Where a fissure sealant forms a protective barrier to prevent dental cavities from forming or spreading on the tooth, a dental filling is meant to restore a tooth that has already formed holes or cavities.

Can you eat after dental fissures?

You may be able to eat after getting your fissure sealant, but you must check with your dentist.

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