A sealant is a plastic film that is put over the deep grooves on your back teeth. This tooth-colored film protects the areas most likely to have cavities form. It prevents plaque build-up on the surface enamel.
Fillings are used to restore a tooth’s normal shape, look, and function. Fillings are used to fill cavities caused by tooth decay, something that happens most often in the back teeth, because it’s so hard to properly brush and floss them.
Why Use Sealants?
Sealants are great for prevention. Once adult teeth have come in, filling those deep grooves at the top of the molars helps keep cavities from forming in the first place. Since the bristles of a toothbrush tend to be too big to get into all the nooks and crannies on the surface of your back teeth, they can’t always remove all of the food, plaque and tartar that grows there.
Once a sealant is applied, it is easier to keep the tooth clean. The best time to add a sealant is after the age 13, when the adult molars have grown in.
What Are the Types of Fillings?
There are several types of fillings available to you when you go to restore your tooth:
Porcelain | Called inlays or onlays, this filling can be matched to the color of the tooth and is stain-resistant.
Composite (Plastic) Resins | Can be matched to the color of the tooth, but they are best for small fillings and last about three to ten years.
Silver Amalgam | Made from mercury mixed with copper, silver, tin, and zinc. Due to the dark color, this filling is highly noticeable, but inexpensive.
Gold | Custom-made, this filling can last more than 20 years, but is also the most expensive.
Glass Ionomer | Contains glass particles
Types of Restorations (Fillings)
There are three types of restorations that can be done using fillings.
- Direct Filling | Uses small amounts of fillings and it can be done as a same-day procedure.
- Semi-Direct Filling | Repairs a larger area and requires more filling.
- Indirect Filling | Used for large restoration, when most of the visible tooth needs to be replaced.