Our back chewing teeth- the molars- normally start coming through at around the age of 6, and have deep grooves and trenches called pits and fissures, which help us to grind food when we eat. They can often go unnoticed because they come through right at the back of the mouth, and don't push any baby teeth out.
These grooves can be prone to trapping bacteria, stain and food deposits, especially if they are very deep and narrow, as they are difficult to access and properly clean out with a toothbrush, especially for our littlest brushers, who are still learning and gaining confidence with their plaque removal.
This creates an ideal environment for decay to start. Acids from the bacteria sitting in the grooves eats into the tooth enamel making it chalky and vulnerable. This process can continue, until eventually the decay breaks through into the next layer of the tooth, forming an irreversible cavity underneath.
In order to prevent this happening, we sometimes advise sealing up the grooves with a flowable plastic resin.
This is a great preventive measure as it is fast and easy to do, there is usually no anaesthetic required and placing a sealant can can prevent a cavity forming. Research indicates that there is a 55% reduction in the chance of decay forming on the biting surface of molar teeth, when they are sealed with fissure seals.