Dental fillings have been popular for a long time, whereas dental sealants are one of the newer dental treatments. A lot of people get confused and use these two terms interchangeably. Let’s take a look at the differences and the similarities that the dental sealants and fillings have.
The nature of the treatment: Sealants are used as a preventive measure to close any deep grooves or lines on the surface of the teeth to avoid a cavity formation. And the fillings are used as a restorative step when the tooth is already damaged due to the decay.
Age Group: Generally, small children and teenagers who are prone to cavities, are advised dental sealants to protect their newly erupted teeth; whereas people from all age groups are advised a dental filling to fix the decayed tooth/ cavity.
Material: The sealant is thinner in consistency to facilitate the flow into tiny grooves, whereas the filling material is thicker and has a higher strength to withstand the chewing forces.
The procedure: The procedure for both the treatments is almost similar, with the sealant placement being the simpler one.
Procedure for sealant placement: The tooth to be sealed is carefully cleaned and dried. Cotton rolls are placed in the adjacent area to avoid saliva contamination. Now the sealant is applied on the desired surface. This liquid sealant will now go into the deep crevices/ faults/ grooves in the tooth and fill them. Once this happens, the dentist will solidify the material with a UV light. And it’s done.
Procedure for the dental filling: The affected tooth is first anaesthetized (numbed) to avoid sensitivity and pain during the procedure. Once that is done, the decayed portion is removed, using a drill and a few other instruments. The filling is now placed on this clean surface and set using a UV light. In cases of deep cavities, the filling is done in multiple increments for better strength. The final filling is then shaped and polished to restore the exact shape and form of the missing tooth structure.
Durability: A filling is expected to last longer than the sealant. The average lifespan of a sealant is 1-2 years, and for a dental filling, it is almost 10 years. This is very subjective based on a person’s oral hygiene, chewing forces, and the tooth structure. Nevertheless, none of the treatments will last forever, and you need to take good care of your teeth and visit your dentist regularly to ensure a healthy mouth.