The grooves and lines on the top surfaces of the back teeth are called fissures. Fissure sealants are a type of preventative treatment that protects the back teeth.
Decay in the top of back teeth often shows as visible black lines, but sometimes the decay progresses under the grooves without pain or visible signs. If the decay advances to deeper parts of the tooth, a root canal fillings may be required. A simple fissure sealant treatment can potentially prevent this complicated course of events.
When teeth first erupt in the mouth, the enamel matrix is vulnerable to decay. Grooves are a particularly susceptible area as the bacteria can get in these small spaces and children can not clean them. A fissure sealant "seals" these grooves so bacteria and food particles can not get it, hence protecting the tooth for years to come.
Fissure sealants are a quick and easy procedure, No anaesthetic is needed, and usually no removal of tooth material is required. The treatment is most effective when it is done before decay has penetrated the teeth.
This image (taken from the internet) an example of fissure sealants placed on a tooth.
At Torrensville Dental Care, for children eligible for Medicare dental rebate, this service is bulk-billed.