Fissure Sealants, Mouthguards
Fissure sealants are hard protective coatings that are applied in order to cover and protect the deep grooves (fissures) in our teeth and prevent dental decay. These fissures are most commonly located at the chewing surfaces on back teeth (molars and premolars). The grooves are at high risk for decay as they can be deep and narrow and collect plaque bacteria and food that cannot be accessed by toothbrush bristles. The plaque bacteria trapped in the fissures produce acids that can go on to cause decay at these prime sites. When these grooves are sealed, the risk for dental decaycan be markedly decreased, especially in children’s teeth.
The treatment is conservative, painless and non-invasive. No injections or drilling are involved. The materials used to seal the fissures are safe and may be a very strong plastic or a material called a glass ionomer. The colour may be white or clear.
First the tooth is thoroughly cleaned and the area is kept dry. The tooth is prepared with a weak acid or conditioning agent to ensure the sealants bond well to the tooth. Then the sealant is applied in liquid form. A UV light may be used to set the material hard. The tooth is then checked and may be smoothed if necessary. The patient can eat and drink as normal immediately after the procedure.
As fissure sealants are most commonly placed in high-stress areas such as the chewing surfaces, they are subject to wear and may intermittently require reapplying.
Anyone who participates in a sport that carries a risk of contact to the face should wear a mouthguard. This includes obvious sports such as football, boxing and rugby, and also collision sports where unexpected contact often happens. These include basketball, hockey, water polo, lacrosse, netball, baseball, softball, squash, soccer, BMX bike riding, horse riding, skateboarding, in-line skating, trampolining, cricket (wicket keeping or batting without a helmet), water skiing and snow ski
racing. Why do you need a mouthguard? A mouthguard helps absorb the shock experienced by a blow to the face, which might otherwise result in an injury to the mouth or jaw. A heavy collision can result in chipped or broken teeth, internal damage to a tooth, tooth loss, injuries to the soft tissue of the mouth, and, in severe cases, concussion or a broken jaw. Injuries like these can lead to long and potentially expensive treatment to restore teeth and the mouth back to normal function and appearance. When should I wear a mouthguard? Mouthguards should be worn whilst playing and training for any sport that could involve contact to the face.
Other Mouthguard Tips:
- The Australian Dental Association (ADA) recommends that only a professionally custom-fitted mouthguard should be worn.
- Check your mouthguard every 12 months for optimal fit and protection.
- Keep your mouthguard clean and store it in a rigid container, away from heat to ensure it maintains its shape.