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FAQ:  Fillings


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Question:
To fill or not to fill? I recently visited a new dentist.

This dentist suggests filling all of the cracks in my molars that show preliminary signs of decay (into enamel but not dentin), which would mean multiple surfaces on each molar.

This seems a bit excessive to me, as I am only 27 and would then have to maintain a large quantity of fillings for the rest of my life.

What is normal practice? Is there another option for preventative care? ...Visitor from San Francisco CA

Answer:
Filling Cracks in Teeth
When a dentist recommends treatment, it is a good idea to understand the recommendation.

Your dentist recommends "filling the cracks in your molars that show preliminary signs of decay." The dentist may not actually mean a "filling" but may actually mean "sealing the cracks" which is called "pit and fissure sealants."

The terms are different because a sealant means sealing existing cracks with no grinding on your natural tooth structure. A filling means grinding on the decayed part of the tooth structure and then filling the resulting hole in your tooth.

Your dentist could be recommending Pit and Fissure Sealants that can prevent decay from starting in the cracks of your teeth.

One technology that makes sealants nearly a lifetime treatment is the use of a "narrow particle beam" (air abrasion) to clean out the cracks before etching. It is very important that the particle beam be narrow enough to only clean out the fissure. The fissures or cracks must be completely clean or the sealant will not bond completely and will get decay below over time.

Editorial Staff

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