Dental Sealants and Dental Fillings: How Do They Differ?
Dental fillings have been the longtime accepted procedure for treating cavities. However, recent technology has shaped the development of dental sealants that are helpful to prevent cavities. Both these dental procedures are designed to enhance your oral health, but they differ in their basic approach. Your dentist will help you consider the most suitable option between the fillings and sealants depending on your specific condition.
Major Differences between Dental Sealants and Dental Fillings
Sealants are used as a preventative approach to help protect premolars and molars with deep gaps, against cavity formation. Since bacteria in the plaque collect in these crevices, sealants are applied to prevent the accumulation of plaque acids on the teeth surface. If the tooth has already developed a decay, a filling may be required to fix the damage and strengthen the tooth. Composite dental fillings are the most natural-looking solution to restore impaired teeth to their regular function, appearance, and form.
1. Material Composition
Dental sealants are created using a tooth-colored, plastic sheet that is applied to the surface of the tooth. Dental fillings are prepared using a composite mixture or combination of materials like plastic or glass.
Dental sealants are applied using a simple coating process on the molars, offering a superficial, temporary solution, and can get worn out easily with chewing, grinding and consuming sticky foods. Whereas, a dental filling is prepared using more long-lasting substances and needs a more intrusive process to apply, therefore increasing its overall lifespan.
Sealants are used as a preventive measure to close grooves, lines, or gaps on the surface of the teeth to avoid cavity formation. On the other hand, fillings are used as a restorative step when a decay has already damaged an existing tooth. They guard your teeth against potentially dangerous bacteria and prevent further damage.
How Do They Work?
Dental fillings and sealants defend your teeth against cavity growth in different ways and help in maintaining strong and healthy teeth.
- Sealant application will require just a few minutes per tooth to get completed by your dentist or dental hygienist.
- The tooth that has to be sealed is carefully cleaned, and its enamel surface is coated with a particular solution to help the sealant fix to the teeth.
- The tooth is then rinsed and allowed to dry, after which the sealant material is cautiously coated onto the enamel surface to conceal the deep gaps.
- Depending on the sealant type, the substance will either solidify automatically or by applying a special curing light.
- Dental fillings usually take one appointment.
- The affected tooth is first desensitized, using local anesthesia by your dentist to remove decay as necessary.
- The cavity is carefully cleaned to prepare the tooth for the new filling.
- The dental filling is then accurately placed, designed, and polished to restore your tooth’s normal shape and function.
Who Needs Them
Sealants apply to the following categories:
- Children and teenagers in the cavity-prone years of 6-16.
- Adults without any existing decay or fillings in their molars.
Fillings are applicable for people with existing conditions including:
- Chipped teeth
- Closing space between two teeth
- Cracked or broken teeth
- Decayed teeth
- Worn teeth
Deciding between a dental filling and a sealant is more dependent on your oral health condition than on your personal choice. Talk to your dentist to know whether you require a dental filling or a dental sealant. Also, remember that neither method is a replacement for good oral health habits.
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