The Difference between Dental Fillings and Dental Sealants

dental filings and dental sealants

Cavities are the most common disease of the mouth, affecting 85 to 90 percent of adults worldwide. The longtime standard procedure for managing cavities has been the dental filling. However, modern technology has led to the development of dental sealants, which can prevent cavities in the first place. For you and your family’s oral health, it’s important to know the differences between these two weapons against cavities.

Dental Fillings

Believe it or not, the first historical evidence of fillings dates back to the 7th century A.D., — a Chinese medical text referred to “silver paste.” The most popular remedy for cavities over the next thousand years or so, however, was tooth extraction. Not until the middle 19th century did metallic fillings become common in the United States.

The primary ingredient in dental amalgam is mercury—about 50 percent by weight—which is usually blended with silver, tin, and copper. This mixture is used to fill in the tooth after the decayed portion has been drilled out. Alternatives to mercury fillings do exist, such as composite resin, glass and plastic ionomer, and gold foil fillings

Dental Sealants

The primary function of dental sealants is to protect against cavity formation in the teeth most prone to decay—usually the back teeth. The chewing surfaces of these teeth are very uneven and difficult to clean thoroughly. Dentists paint a liquid plastic material onto the teeth. The plastic hardens and bonds with the teeth to seal out food and plaque.

Dental sealants are not a substitute for fillings. Rather, sealants are a method of prevention, whereas dental fillings are a treatment for cavities that have already occurred.

If you are interested in sealants to avoid the need for future fillings, talk to your dentist. A dental plan from EDP Dental Plan can reduce dental costs by up to 70%, without the limits and hassles of conventional insurance. Call 631-272-5230 or enroll online and start saving today.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
See What Our Members Are Saying