Fissure sealants are a preventative treatment often recommended in older children and teenagers, once their permanent teeth have come through. It is not a response to decay, but a way to help prevent decay in the future.
When bacteria is left on our teeth for an extended period of time, there is a high risk of cavities developing. Areas that are difficult to clean therefore, are more likely to become decayed over time. The grooves (fissures) on the biting surfaces of our teeth, particularly molars, are one such area that can be difficult to clean, particularly if those grooves are quite deep. As a result of that, this is one area we often see decay develop, and fillings needed.
A fissure seal is basically a small filling that fills in those grooves and seals them off. This does 2 things. Firstly, it shallows out the deep grooves, making the area easy to clean. Secondly, it seals the tooth, meaning that the bacteria cannot get to tooth and cause decay. The recommendation for fissure sealants will be based on the anatomy of your teeth as your risk of decay. In appropriate situations, fissure sealants have shown to be very effective at protecting against decay in these areas.