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What is the Difference Between a Dental Sealant and Filling?

When it comes to dental sealants and fillings, patients are often confused. What is the purpose of each and how do they differ? Both dental procedures benefit all-around oral health. They are very ordinary in the dentistry world. While the two seals off an area, their methods are different. They also provide different functions. Here we dive into the differences between dental sealants and dental fillings.

Function

To achieve a certain result, your dentist may suggest a dental sealant or filling. Each has a specific function. A dental sealant works as a preventative procedure. Dentists use it for children who have large crevices in their premolars or molars. These crevices are natural fissures in the teeth caused by chewing. But they can become deep and hard to reach with a toothbrush. Thus, they often become ignored in the cleaning department and cause tooth decay. A dental sealant blocks out food particles. It stops them from collecting or getting trapped and then rotting. Thus decreasing the chances of tooth decay. It also protects the tooth enamel by adding a protective shield around it.

In contrast, a dental filling is a restorative function. Dentists look at whether the tooth has already experienced or is experiencing decay. The filling repairs the damage caused by the decay. It also restores the look of the tooth and its shape. The decay is first removed from the tooth and a filling is then added. The filling also adds a type of protective shield by making the tooth stronger. It becomes more durable to fight decay in the future. A dental filling is often used on cavities. The need for dental fillings can reduce by ensuring optimal oral hygiene.

Material

Dental fillings and sealants also differ by the type of materials they use. There are a wide variety of materials to use for a dental filling. They include gold, silver amalgam, plastic, composite resin, or porcelain. Gold and ceramic/porcelain are a little more expensive. As opposed to the traditional use of silver amalgam. Yet, silver amalgam, made up of mercury, silver, tin, copper, and zinc, has become less popular. The negative effects of mercury and other metals in the mouth and body become more well known.

Dental sealant, by comparison, is on the whole made of plastic. A sealant gets applied as a liquid. This allows it to flow into all the nooks and crannies of the crevice and is then set with ultraviolet light.

Time

Another key difference between dental sealants and dental fillings is their longevity. Sealants are a temporary procedure. They are often meant to be a preventative measure for children. Sealants get removed if sticky or chewy foods become caught on it and lift it off. Also, if the individual grinds their teeth at night, wearing the sealant down. The longest you can expect a sealant to last is up to a year.

Fillings, in contrast, are much longer-lasting. They may remain anywhere from several years to several decades. The better the individual’s oral hygiene, the longer a filling can last.

Don’t worry if you’re in need of a sealant or filling. Your dentist will determine the state of your tooth. They will look at your age and any other dental history, too. A child is less likely to need a filling, but if there is significant decay, for example, they will need a filling. If you or your child has a problem tooth, don’t hesitate to schedule a checkup appointment. The sooner you catch tooth decay, the better. It’s also crucial that you keep up to date with your dental appointments.

Remember, decay is often not felt or noticed until it’s too late. If you’re looking for a great dentist to assist you with a sealant or filling, look no further than GLO Modern Dental!

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