Pit and fissure cavities account for approximately 80 to 90 percent of all cavities in permanent posterior teeth and 44 percent in primary teeth. Pit and fissure sealant is a material placed into the pits and fissures of cavity-susceptible teeth that micromechanically bonds to the tooth preventing access by cariogenic (cavity-causing) bacteria to their source of nutrients, thus reducing the risk of cavities in those susceptible pits and fissures.
A Cochrane review calculated that placement of resin-based sealant in children and adolescent reduces the incidence of cavities by 86 percent after one year and 57 percent at 48 to 54 months. Sealants must be retained on the tooth and should be monitored to be most effective. Studies incorporating recall and maintenance have reported sealant success levels of 80 to 90 percent after 10 or more years.