6 questions you may have about dental sealants

Posted by Southeast Family Dental Sep 15,2020

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I was having lunch with a friend who sat down at the table spitting mad. She’d just taken her daughter Cathy to her dentist and been told that Cathy had a cavity. “What the heck,” she exclaimed, “I had sealants put on her teeth about seven years ago. She shouldn’t have a cavity!” She calmed down and we eventually had a nice lunch, but her comments got me thinking. I don’t know much about dental sealants, so I turned to the experts at Southeast Family Dental to get the full scoop.

I had several questions – and they had the answers I needed about dental sealants.

1. Do I still need to brush my teeth if I have sealants put on my teeth?

Southeast Family Dental Answer: Yes, sealants just protect the biting surface of the tooth, not between teeth or down by the gums. Flossing is also very important still to keep the gaps between teeth clean and free of debris that causes bacteria to grow and decay to form.

2. Can I still get a cavity?

Southeast Family Dental Answer: Yes, you can still get a cavity in between your teeth or in other areas of the tooth if the sealant breaks down or wears. To prevent that situation, always have dental sealants checked during six-month appointments.

3. Do I only need a dental sealant treatment once?

Southeast Family Dental Answer: Maybe. If a tooth hasn’t come in all the way (part of the tooth is still under the gum), it may need to have the sealant touched-up once it is in its final position. Again, having sealants checked during preventative dental appointments every six-months will allow for the dentist to address changes in teeth such as this situation.

4. Can sealants be placed over cavities?

Southeast Family Dental Answer: We do NOT recommend this as a rule. However, it may be an option in some situations on a baby tooth where you know that the tooth is eventually going to come out. Every patient at Southeast Family Dental is someone with a unique situation and we address each person that way. So, while we generally don’t put sealant over a tooth with a cavity, it might be the best option for a patient with a unique circumstance.

5. How long do sealants last?

Southeast Family Dental Answer: Usually, dental sealants are re-applied or touched up every few years. A lot depends on the patient’s personal habits. If a patient chews ice or eats a lot of sticky food, sealants may get worn down quicker than other patient’s sealants. Different people, different habits, different results. We get to know our patients and their habits so we know how to best provide dental services to them.

6. Why are sealants usually placed on children’s teeth?

Southeast Family Dental Answer: Teeth have the deepest grooves and are most susceptible to decay in the first few years after they come in. While in some situations sealants are beneficial for adults, most are placed on children’s permanent teeth as they come in.

So, while I am confident that my friend didn’t have (or remember) all the information that was relative to dental sealants, I have to believe that one cavity in seven years is pretty good. Sealants must have been a benefit to her daughter’s teeth after all!

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