Sealant vs. Filling: Which Does My Child Need?

The risk of cavities never goes away, for children or adults. Even with great oral hygiene at home and frequent visits to the dentist for routine consultations, your child can still come one day and complain about a toothache.

Whether it’s in their baby teeth or permanent teeth, the pain shouldn’t be ignored. Two potential treatment paths to help your child are dental sealants and fillings, which may sound similar, but are actually used in different ways.

Here’s everything you need to know about sealants and fillings.

What Are Dental Sealants?

Dental sealants are a type of material that gets painted on the chewing surface of the child’s teeth. This surface will then basically act as a physical barrier between the tooth and the bacteria and foods inside the mouth. 

Thanks to this layer, the tooth is essentially protected against decay.

Dental sealants are normally applied on premolars and molars, since they are the ones at higher risk for cavities, simply because their position makes it harder to properly brush them.

What Are Dental Fillings?

Dental fillings in Marshfield are a type of treatment used to restore a tooth after it’s been affected by a cavity or another type of damage. For instance, if the child deals with a cavity, the dentist will have to drill the tooth and remove the infected tissue. This leaves a hole in the tooth which will be filled with a special tooth-color material, known as a dental filling.

Thanks to the dental filling, both the tooth’s look and function are essentially restored, and the material helps procure the nerves from bacteria exposure.

What Are the Differences Between Dental Fillings and Sealants?

Let’s look at what sets these two treatment paths apart:

  • What they treat - Sealants have a preventative role and are usually placed on the child’s tooth when the dentist sees the beginning signs of a cavity. They can treat the area and apply the sealant to avoid any more damage to the tooth. Dental fillings, on the other hand, are used for larger cavities that will require drilling;
  • What they’re made from - Sealants are plastic and act as a barrier between the tooth and the bacteria inside the mouth. Fillings, on the other hand, can be made from silver amalgam, porcelain, composite resin, and more;
  • How long they last - Dental fillings rarely need to be replaced as with the right maintenance and oral hygiene, they can last a lifetime. Sealants are subjected to normal wear and tear and may need to be replaced over time.

How We Can Help

The best way to know whether your child needs a filling or a sealant is to book a consultation with Dr. Julie Hantson and bring your child in for a check-up.

To get started, schedule your visit online, or call Marshfield Pediatric Dentistry at (781) 205-1124 today for more information.

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