Preventive Resins (PRR)
Why Wait Until You Need a Filling?
What’s The Difference Between Sealants and Preventive Resins?
- Sealants are used to prevent cavities from forming in the pits, fissures, and grooves of teeth, especially back teeth. No tooth structure is removed. Sealants are especially useful in younger patients aged 6 to 20. Studies have shown that if teeth can be kept healthy during these years, many dental problems can be avoided in adulthood.
- Preventive resin restorations are used to treat early cavities in these pits, fissures, and grooves before they reach the softer dentin of the tooth and begin to rapidly spread. A very small portion of enamel is removed, which cleans out the cavity as well, and a composite restoration is placed. Since only enamel is involved, no anesthesia is necessary.
We’ll Keep A Watch On This One
For decades, dentists would wait until a cavity had penetrated into dentin before finally recommending a filling, even if it was pretty obvious a cavity was forming. This was confirmed by “getting a stick” in the grooves when examining with a dental explorer. The dentist would make a note on the chart to “watch” the tooth.
Why would dentists do this when it was pretty obvious a cavity was forming? The answer is straightforward- the only filling material available was silver/mercury amalgam fillings. Along with the earliest composite materials, amalgam fillings required a significant amount of healthy tooth structure to be removed just to treat a very small cavity. As long as dentists felt the treatment was worse than the problem, they would watch and wait.
Fortunately, modern dental materials and equipment such as dental microscopes have allowed today’s dentists to treat even the smallest of cavities before they damage the tooth. Preventive resin restorations are a perfect example of minimally invasive dentistry.