Molar teeth have deep, fine grooves (also known as fissures) and pits on their chewing surfaces. These grooves can be very difficult to keep clean and often, even the toothbrush bristles are too thick to brush the base of the groove. That means, even if your oral hygiene is impeccable, some areas are just impossible to clean thoroughly! This leads to an unwanted collection of plaque and food debris. If plaque and food particles are not frequently removed, this can result in tooth decay. Fissure sealants are thin coatings placed over the pits and fissures of back teeth to help form a protective layer. It stops the food from getting in the tiny grooves in the teeth and thereby, reduces the risk of tooth decay.

Which teeth are most commonly fissure sealed? 

Fissure sealants can be placed on any tooth with a pit or fissure however, they are most commonly prescribed for permanent six-year-old molars, twelve-year-old molars and sometimes even lateral incisors (as some have deep grooves on the inside). In some cases where a child may be in a high risk category for decay, fissure sealants are even placed on baby molars.

How long do fissure sealants last?

Fissure sealants are durable and can stand up to daily chewing forces for months or even years. Of course, everyone is different, and the protective coating may wear down at different rates in different people. If there was difficulty placing the fissure sealant, this may affect the longevity of the sealant. Having regular dental check ups is the best way to ensure that your sealants are in good condition.

How are fissure sealants applied? 

The first step to placing a fissure sealant is to remove all of the food and plaque from the grooves. This process is quick and rarely, if ever, causes any discomfort. The tooth is then conditioned, washed and dried before the sealant is applied. For a fissure sealant to be effective, the tooth must be very dry while it is being placed, so cotton rolls will be used to help keep the tooth dry. With some materials, a blue light will be used to set the material, while other materials set in a time based manner. Your clinician will explain this process in depth to your child before proceeding with the fissure sealants.



1. Sealants are valuable in protecting the chewing surfaces of molars, but regular brushing, flossing and a healthy diet (low in processed foods and added sugars) is required to prevent tooth decay.

2. Preventing tooth decay—in the primary, or “baby,” teeth as well as in the permanent ones that we carry into adulthood—is important for your child’s overall health.

3. Fissure Sealants are a treatment option but are not necessary for every child. Your Dentist or Oral Health Therapist will discuss with you if they think the treatment would benefit your child.


Fissure sealants are a preventive treatment option but are not necessary for every child. The need for fissure sealants will depend on a number of factors such including:

  • Age
  • Dental confidence 
  • Oral hygiene status 
  • History of decay 

Your dental practitioner will discuss with you if they think the treatment would benefit your child. 

In summary:

  • Ensure your child is being seen by the dentist every 6 months, to check existing sealants and to ensure newly erupting molars are assessed as soon as possible. 
  • Fissure sealants are cost effective and non-invasive. 
  • Fissure sealants are a great preventive treatment in conjunction with good oral hygiene and diet. 
  • If you would like to know if fissure sealants are appropriate for your child, get in touch or ask us at your next appointment!

No. Fillings are used to restore teeth to their normal shape, appearance and function. This is achieved by filling in cavities caused by tooth decay. Fissure sealants are preventative treatments for tooth decay, filling in the natural grooves in the back (molar) teeth. Fissure sealants and fillings use similar materials, including resins or glass ionomer, but with different consistencies.


No. Fissure sealants are non-invasive and painless. In some cases, the grooves may need to be cleaned out first (using a dental drill) however this is only within the enamel surface so should not result in any sensitivity or require any local anaesthetic. 

Fissure sealants are far more cost effective than managing decay with fillings. Health funds that cover preventive dentistry may cover a portion of the cost of fissure sealants. If fissure sealants are required, we will provide you with a treatment plan prior to proceeding with any treatment. 

As the fissure sealant only covers the groovy parts of the teeth, there are still many other exposed surfaces that are susceptible to dental decay, such as in between the teeth. This is where good oral hygiene; such as brushing twice daily and flossing once daily combined with a healthy diet helps protect the other sites of the teeth. Fissure sealants can also wear down, chip and leak, this means that bacteria can creep in underneath the sealant. Regular dental x-rays are used to check in between your child’s teeth and underneath existing fissure sealants. 


A great little video to explain to you and your children what fissures sealants are and how they are applied!

Thanks to our wonderful Oral Health Therapist, Carlee
She works at our Essendon clinics.
If you would like to talk to her or any of our amazing team, about this or any other questions you may have, please contact us on 03 9372 8960.

Carlee Wooding