Both sealants and Preventive Resin Restorations (PRRs) are proven effective at reducing cavities on the chewing surface of your teeth. Please note, these do not protect all areas of your tooth, so brushing and flossing are still needed!
A sealant is used when the tooth has deep pits or grooves but no cavity. It is a surface coating that is painted on to a prepared tooth to fill in the pits and grooves that collect food and bacteria (leading to decay). A PRR is used when a small cavity has already started in your tooth’s pits or grooves. The soft tooth structure in the decayed area is removed and then a tooth colored material is placed into the area. Like the sealant, the goal is to fill in the pits and grooves that can collect food and bacteria.
If you let the cavity get larger, then a filling is needed, rather than a sealant or PRR. Fillings can be composite resin (tooth colored) or amalgam (silver or gray colored).
Local Anesthetic, commonly called Novocain, is not needed for sealants. In most cases, it is not needed for PRRs. It is often needed for fillings.
A few years ago, a concern about a monomer (bisGMA) used in many sealant and PRR materials surfaced. Studies have found no significant or statistical associations and indicate that sealing teeth should continue since it has shown proven benefits.
Sealants are usually done on children as the molars come in to their mouths. They can be done on premolars as well. Most insurances only provide benefits for sealants up to a certain age and only on molars. PRRs have been done for many years but are a relatively new separate dental code, so it remains to be seen if the insurance companies will place age or tooth limits on this procedure.
You can learn more about sealants, PRRs, and fillings from Dear Doctor in the Patient Education section of my website, www.drjrobb.com
Dr. Jennifer Robb is a general dentist who does sealants, PRRs, and fillings in her office located at 1320 Cooper Foster Park Rd., Lorain, OH 44053. Call 440-960-1940.