Are Dental Sealants Ever A Good Option For Adults?
Most people know that having sealants placed on children’s teeth is a good way to keep them from accruing decay and preventing cavities. However, far fewer people know that dental sealants can also be a good option for some adult dental patients as well. According to Dr. A. Gerald Michels, a family dentistry specialist in San Diego, California, who is in practice at Hillcrest Family Dental Care, sealants are an excellent way to protect back teeth and prevent against dental decay and cavities for people of all ages.
Rather than waiting until bacteria has gotten into the tooth and a cavity has occurred, patients who go with dental sealants can have a liquid placed over the teeth that prevents that bacteria buildup from happening in the first place. With a sealant, there is no drilling and there are no shots, Michels explains, which is why sealants are such a popular option for so many people—including patients who have an extreme fear of the dentist or the dentist’s office.
Instead of drilling into the teeth or cleaning them out with picks and other tools, Michels says that sealants are put on with the use of a liquid solution that flows into the cracks and grooves on a patient’s teeth. “They seep down into these grooves and seal them off so you won’t get any cavities,” he says.
Although sealants are usually thought of as a dental option for children, Michels says that an increasing number of adults as asking for them now as well. He explains that anyone who has grooves in his or her teeth that are deeper than normal would be a good candidate to have sealants put on to prevent cavities from occurring.
Typically, adults don’t need this treatment because the natural grooves on teeth tend to become shallower as we age. However, in some adults, this change does not occur and the grooves remain the same depth even as time goes on. As people with this issue get older, the chance of bacteria getting into those grooves and causing decay only grows more and more likely.
Michels says that anyone who is getting sealants put on his or her teeth needs to understand that this is not a permanent solution, and that the sealants will wear off over time. “So you do need to come back in,” he says. At his practice, Michels says he usually recommends that patients who want dental sealants get them put back on once every five years. Although Michels says that he has seen sealants that lasted upwards of 10 or 20 years, the sealants on most patients’ teeth will wear down or slough off after an average of five years.
Michels says that he will usually bring the topic of dental sealants up with any of his patients if he notices especially deep grooves duringan semi-annual exam. “If I find grooves on adults that are still very deep, and maybe one or two of them is decayed, then I will recommend sealants on all of them,” he says. However, Michels says that he also recommends that anyone who is curious about sealants bring up the topic with a dentist during a cleaning.
If both you and your dentist fail to bring up the option of having dental sealants placed on your teeth, the worse case scenario is that those teeth with deep grooves could sport increasing decay and cavities could grow. Not only that, but the decay could spread to other teeth in the mouth and cause even more trouble down the road.
*Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your healthcare provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with an appropriate healthcare provider.