Pit and fissure sealants could save root canal treatment

Professional Teeth cleaning to avoid Root canal treatment

Written by Dr Amrita Jain

Medically reviewed by  Dr. Vidhi Bhanushali Kabade BDS, TCC

Last updated Apr 16, 2024

Written by Dr Amrita Jain

Medically reviewed by  Dr. Vidhi Bhanushali Kabade BDS, TCC

Last updated Apr 16, 2024

Root canal treatments are one of those nightmares often feared the most. Going to the dentist can be scary, but root canal treatments are particularly frightening. Most people are victims to dental phobia even with the thought of root canals, isn’t it? Due to this, people delay dental treatments, which means they end up in a deeper fix. This is not only bad for their teeth but also for their pocket.

Some people are victims of tooth cavities, no matter how much they take care of their oral hygiene. Relatable isn’t it? This is because their teeth are cavity-prone. Cavity-prone people can benefit from pit and fissure sealants in a way they can even avoid root canal treatments. How? To understand how pit and fissure sealants can help avoid root canal treatments, let’s try to understand how you reach a root canal stage and what can pit and fissure sealants actually do!

What causes tooth decay?


There are many factors responsible for cavities like diet, poor oral hygiene, etc for tooth cavities out of which 90% of them can be prevented, but 10% is not really in our hands.

  • Diet – “Sip all day, get decay.” If you sip, graze, or snack on anything sugary throughout the day, your chances of getting cavities increase by quite a bit.
  • Dry Mouth – Saliva not only washes away plaque and bacteria, but it also neutralizes the acids that can attack your teeth. Without saliva ( xerostomia) or with reduced salivary flow, you’re much more likely to decay.
  • Genetics – Studies have found that some people carry a genetic profile that makes them more susceptible to the strain of bacteria that causes cavities.
  • Tooth Anatomy – If you have crowded teeth, it’s usually more difficult to get to the areas where plaque and bacteria reside, which makes it more likely that you’ll develop cavities. If you brush and floss regularly, but still miss these spots, a cavity can easily form.
  • Gum Recession – When the gums recede, the root of the tooth is exposed, which isn’t covered with a protective enamel like the rest of the tooth. This exposed area is much softer than the outer layers of the tooth and can easily develop tooth cavities.

Why are some people cavity-prone?

Some people are more cavity-prone than others. This is because their teeth have certain qualities that make them susceptible to cavities.

The teeth of cavity-prone people tend to have deep pits and fissures, or grooves, in the chewing surface of their molars. These pits and fissures can be deep enough to create a “dead end” where food tends to stick and remains for long periods of time. When this occurs, fermentation takes place, releasing acids that dissolve the tooth’s enamel, causing a cavity.

If you’re wondering how will you know if you are prone to cavities, then here’s a simple tip: if your teeth are sensitive to hot and cold foods or drinks, then it’s likely that there is some decay in those areas. Sometimes though it can be hard to tell since it can take years for decay to set in; however, if you see any small back brown spots on your teeth, you may want to get your teeth scanned to be sure.

Cavity progresses to the root canal stage

When a tooth has a cavity on its surface, it’s called “decay.” When decay progresses to deeper layers of the tooth, it reaches the nerve, which is where sharp shooting pain occurs. The infection reaches penetrates through the different layers of the tooth and reaches the bloodstream of the tooth (pulp). The infection now travels straight down to the bottom of the tooth infecting the soft tissues. This is when you have to have a root canal done, or else you risk losing that tooth altogether.

What are pit fissure sealants?

Pit and fissure sealants were originally developed in the 1970s for children, but are now used by adults as well to prevent cavities. These are a thin layer of material that is applied directly to the chewing surfaces of teeth as a preventive measure to avoid cavities from occurring in the first place.

So what do they actually do? They seal the deep fissures in your teeth. Fissures are grooves or holes that can be filled with substances like food, plaque, or bacteria. These substances can then cause cavities to form if they stay there long enough. If a sealant is applied to the surface of your teeth, it will fill up these grooves so that food and other substances cannot get stuck there. This keeps them from being able to stay long enough to degrade your enamel and form a cavity.

A sealant also protects against acid erosion in these areas because it covers up the pores that allow acids to get through to the rest of your tooth. It also protects against any cavities.

Pit and fissure sealants as a protective shield

Pit and fissure sealants are like a protective shield that acts as an insurance policy to protect your teeth from acid attacks by microbes.

Pit and fissure sealants act like a protective shield against tooth cavities. The reason for this is that these sealants are applied on to the deep fissures and grooves of the teeth, where the most acidic activity occurs. If you have had cavities in the past, your dentist may recommend that you get these sealants placed on your teeth. This will allow you to have a barrier against the acid attack by microbes so that they cannot penetrate deep inside your tooth enamel.

Anticavity mechanism of pit and fissure sealants

Pit and fissure sealants prevent the onset of tooth cavities by sealing off the deep fissures and pits in our teeth. Pit and fissure sealants once applied on the chewing surfaces of the teeth cause the depressions of the tooth to become shallow. The food we eat does not stick around for long hours and is immediately flushed away. This does not give enough time for the bacteria to ferment the sugars and release acids. Pit and fissure sealants mechanically keep the tooth surfaces clean and hence there is a reduced risk of tooth cavities.

How can pit fissure sealants save root canal treatments?

A pit and fissure sealant is a clear plastic or resin material applied to the deep grooves and pits on the chewing surfaces of your back teeth. These teeth are the most prone to cavities because they have special anatomy that makes them difficult to clean with brushing alone.

So by having a Pit and Fissure sealants applied, it can prevent plaque from accumulating in these areas and thus preventing decay.

Because it prevents the onset of cavities, you don’t reach a stage where you need fillings, root canals or even the need to extract your tooth. Unless cavities occur between the teeth or below the gums line.

When should you get sealants?

Dentists recommend that children between the ages of six to 14 years of age receive dental sealants. According to the ADA, your first molars break through around age 6, while your second molars appear around age 12. Most dentists recommend sealing these teeth as soon as they come through to protect them from tooth decay. At other times in life when there is a very high risk of cavities forming (if you’re going through puberty or pregnant), your dentist might also recommend that you get them done as well.

The bottom line

Pit and fissure sealants are recommended by dentists because they prevent cavities from forming, in children’s teeth as well as in adults when needed. It is recommended, especially in cavity-prone teeth. Since it prevents the onset of cavities you don’t reach a stage where you need a root canal treatment for your teeth. Hence, this could save you from a root canal treatment in the future.


  • Most people fear going to a dentist because of the deep-rooted fear of root canal treatments.
  • You could save your tooth from a root canal treatment by getting pit and fissure sealants at the right time.
  • Pit and fissure sealants seal off the deep grooves and ditches on the tooth, reducing the possibility of tooth cavities.
  • Once the onset of cavities is prevented, the need for a root canal treatment doesn’t occur.
  • Also, root canals are so expensive, but with pit and fissure sealants, you can get the same security for half the price!
  • For these reasons, pit and fissure sealants could save teeth from root canal treatments.
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Author Bio: Dr. Amrita Jain is a practicing dental surgeon since 4 years. She completed her B.D.S in 2016 and was has been a rank holder throughout her course. She suggests “Holistic dentistry is the best dentistry”. Her treatment line follows a conservative pattern which means saving a tooth is of utmost priority and preventing your teeth from getting decayed rather than curing it with a root canal treatment. She inculcates the same while consulting her patients. Apart from her interest in clinical practice, she has developed interest in research and writing over a period of time. She states “It is my clinical experience that motivates me to write and spread dental awareness”. Her articles are well researched with a combination of technical knowledge and clinical experience.

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