Fillings and Sealants: Mundane But Important to Your Dental Health

"Sealants are the second-best thing you can do for your kids' dental health. The first is to give them a toothbrushes and toothpaste.

And another thing: sealants aren't just for kids." --Dr. Jeff Tollett

Filling a small cavity is easy, for me and for my patients. Frankly, it's not the most glamorous part of the job, nor is it very lucrative. It's really important, though, because small cavities lead to big cavities. Not exactly rocket science, I know. I point it out because small cavities are easy to ignore until it is too late and more expensive and time-consuming root canal and crown procedures are required. For these reasons, even small cavities should be treated in adults and in children. Baby teeth are less well-developed than adult teeth adn serve all the same functions as well as holding space in the arch for the adult teeth.

Before a discussion about fillings, let's talk about cavity prevention. 

Understanding Sealants and How They Prevent Cavities

Between 2004 and 2008, the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs conducted an extensive survey to collect and then answer dental health practitioners' questions and concerns about dental sealants. Clinical recommendations that came out of that process were published in March 2008, and they continue to be refined and discussed in Continuing Education programs today.

You can read the recommendations yourself, or just know this: next to brushing at least twice a day, sealants are the best way to prevent cavities in young children and an effective way for adults to avoid tooth root decay. Not surprisingly, I highly recommend sealants.

Common Questions About Fillings, Sealants and Your Dental Health

Does it hurt to have a cavity filled?
Getting a cavity filled is not a great deal of fun, but it's also practically painless. It takes about 20 minutes, from the time you sit down in the chair until you hear me or Dr. Bahm say "all done."

Is it safe to get fillings or x-rays at the dentist? Even if I'm pregnant? 
Yes. (Even if you're pregnant.)

How much does it cost to see a dentist to fix a cavity?
We'll try to answer that question when you call the office. While we are not in-network providers with most insurance companies, our fees are reasonable and we're usually able to give you a pretty good estimate over the phone. We file insurance claims electronically for patients with insurance, and we accept cash, checks, and major credit cards for services.

What if I have silver fillings? They're probably OK, too. Silver or amalgam fillings, while no longer common, are long-lasting and generally safe. Most of the fillings we use in our office are composite fillings - sometimes called "tooth colored" or "cosmetic" fillings. The American Dental Association explains the differences in detail on its dental health site.As always, if you have additional questions, or would like to know more about the process, contact me

I've got a cracked filling. 
It happens. The good news is many cracked fillings are easy to fix. Contact us; we might be able to get you a same day appointment.

Do you do porcelain fillings? 
I can, and I have, but once most patients understand the difference between composite and porcelain, they choose the composite.