Sealants vs. Fillings: What’s the Difference?


Explore the differences between dental sealants and dental fillings to learn which is the right choice for your child.

Ask any parent what their biggest concern is for their child’s oral health and most will agree that tooth decay is at the top of the list. This isn’t a surprise considering about 42% of children under the age of 11 have had tooth decay and of that percentage, about half currently have untreated tooth decay.

Although the statistics may be alarming for parents, we actually have some good news!

Tooth decay is often completely preventable.

Tooth decay may be the most common oral health problem, but it’s also one that is almost always preventable.

Remember, the most common causes of tooth decay are oral hygiene and diet. Kids who indulge a bit too often in their favorite sweets and also forget to brush are more likely to develop cavities. By encouraging a healthy diet and supervising twice-daily brushing as part of an oral hygiene routine, parents can largely prevent cavities.

Modern pediatric dentistry makes cavity prevention even easier for parents.

Modern pediatric dentistry also lends a helping hand in cavity prevention as well as treatment. This brings us to two very important services offered by pediatric dentists: dental sealants and dental fillings.

Chances are you’re already familiar with dental fillings as you might have one yourself, but you may be less familiar with dental sealants. Furthermore, you might be confused as to which service is the right choice for your child.

To help you solve the mystery and gain more knowledge about your child’s oral health, we’re going to go over what you need to know about dental sealants versus dental fillings.

Dental sealants focus on preventing tooth decay from forming.

Dental sealants prevent tooth decay by acting as a physical barrier.

Your child’s pediatric dentist will paint the sealant, which is a plastic resin material, onto the surface of their rear teeth. The resin bonds to the tooth enamel, dries, and forms a durable barrier from plaque and food debris. Within minutes your child will have a few years of cavity protection.

Dental sealants are extremely effective at preventing tooth decay, stopping 80% of cavities in kids.

Coupled with a thorough at-home care regimen, dental sealants could be the little bit of extra help your child needs to join the Cavity Free Club.

Keep in mind that dental sealants are not a form of treatment for tooth decay. If your child currently has cavities, dental fillings are the correct route.

Dental fillings focus on treating active cases of tooth decay.

Dental fillings treat tooth decay and stop further damage to teeth.

Dental fillings are a form of treatment for cavities. If your child’s pediatric dentist discovers signs of tooth decay, this decay will need to be removed and a filling will be used to mend the leftover gap. This filling will not only be aesthetically pleasing, but it also helps strengthen the tooth.

Dental fillings are made of different materials.

While dental sealants are a specific material, dental fillings come in a couple of options. You and your child will be able to choose between tooth-colored fillings or silver amalgam fillings.

While some pediatric dental practices still offer silver amalgam fillings, Must Love Kids’ dentists use only tooth-colored fillings. Tooth-colored fillings look natural, don’t impact your child’s smile, and are exceptionally durable. We think you and your child will enjoy these benefits just as much as our pediatric dentists do!

Sealants and fillings can be combined for total cavity prevention.

In cases where kids have active tooth decay and their oral health history shows a high-risk for developing cavities, the best solution is to choose both dental sealants and dental fillings.

The first step is to treat any cavities or spots of tooth decay as swiftly as possible. The quicker tooth decay is removed and dental fillings are placed, the less damage will be done to your child’s smile. Afterward, the dental sealant will be applied and your child’s pediatric dentist will recommend an at-home oral hygiene routine that focuses on cavity prevention.

Take the first step towards protecting your child’s smile from tooth decay by visiting Must Love Kids Pediatric Dentistry.

Now that you know the difference between dental sealants and dental fillings, it’s time to take the next step by booking a visit with the Must Love Kids dental team. From there your child will meet with their pediatric dentist and after an examination, you’ll both find out more about whether dental sealants or dental fillings are the right choice.

You can schedule your child’s appointment today by calling our Vancouver office or filling out this easy online form. If your child is a new patient or you need to update their existing medical file, you can find both forms right here.