The Differences Between Dental Fillings and Dental Sealants

Fillings and Sealants: What’s the difference? Dental fillings and dental sealants are two entirely different procedures. While they are both quick cos...

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Fillings and Sealants: What's the difference?

Dental fillings and dental sealants are two entirely different procedures. While they are both quick cosmetic treatments (take less than half an hour, on average) and both seem to coat or shield the teeth, their materials, purpose, and longevity differ in a number of ways. To make the process clearer, here is a list of the major differences, the dental sealants vs fillings.

Restorative Versus Preventive

The purpose of dental sealants and fillings is one of the major distinctions between the two cosmetic treatments. In dental sealant vs filling, Fillings are considered a restorative application used on teeth that have been damaged by decay. When a dentist gives you a filling, they will remove the decayed material, clean the affected area, and then fill the cleaned out cavity with filling material (for more information, visit our dental fillings blog here). Sealants, on the other hand, are deemed ‘preventative’. A sealant will be used by a dentist to cover a portion of a tooth to prevent damage from occurring. 

Dental Fillings

A dentist will use a filling to restore a tooth after a cavity or a hole has formed in your mouth from tooth decay. Tooth decay is usually a result of dental plaque which turns sugar into acid. Subsequently, the oral acids in your mouth dissolve the minerals which make up the enamel, such as calcium. This will cause the enamel to weaken, usually evident through discoloration of the tooth, whereby holes or cavities will form in the material. A filling is therefore inserted into the tooth to prevent any additional damage, with its sole purpose to block the entry of oral bacteria that could result in an infection or even greater decay to the affected tooth. For more information, review our dental fillings blog.

Dental Sealants

Conversely, sealants are deemed as a 'preventative' dental procedure. Indeed, a sealant can be applied to a tooth that has not suffered any decay. Sealants essentially prevent tooth decay from forming on the pits and fissures of the teeth, providing a physical barricade to protect the natural tooth surfaces and grooves - the perfect breeding ground for decay to form. Thus, dental sealants shield teeth from the early onset of decay before it is too late.

Permanent Vs Temporary

Another difference between sealant and filling is their longevity. Both fillings & sealants are considered permanent treatments. In sealants vs fillings, it is fillings that usually last longer. Sealants, on the other hand, are regarded as temporary dental procedures - which is why they are often used on children! So tooth sealant vs filling says filling is more appropriate if looking for a permanent solution.

Dental Fillings

On average, dental fillings usually last around 10-15 years. A filling replacement is a fairly rare procedure, as the materials are durable and withstand food supplements and bite resistance.

Dental Sealants

Dental sealants can usually last up t0 10 years without needing a replacement fitted. However, regular check-ups are required to ensure the materials have not chipped or worn away. Although, these dental procedures can be easily replaced by a hygienist who can add more sealant material if required. For more information about dental fillings and sealants, contact Procopio Towle Dental Office at (925) 933-5677 to schedule a Consultation or visit our dental services page.

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