Dental Sealants and Dental Veneers Explained
April 19, 2022
What do you know about dental sealants and dental veneers? They both cover the teeth. That is the one similarity they share. Beyond that, they’re very different. Here’s everything you need to know about dental sealants and dental veneers.
What Dental Sealants and Dental Veneers Do
Sealants and veneers are treatments involving your teeth, but one is protective while the other can be cosmetic or restorative.
So, what do dental sealants do?
Dental sealants are designed to add a layer of protection to the crevices in a tooth that your brush doesn’t always hit. Have you ever been to the dentist and heard you have “groovy” teeth? You have grooves that food gets trapped in. They’re common in the back molars. When your toothbrush misses those spots, the trapped food draws bacteria that damage the surfaces and cause cavities.
Brushing teeth properly is essential for preventing cavities. But, sealant can help protect the surface, too. It’s a coating that’s painted over the tooth to protect the enamel. It’s a long-lasting way to get extra protection from cavities.
The ADA reports that sealants can lower the risk of decay by as much as 80% for the first two years and 50% for four years. Children between the ages of 6 to 11 whose teeth are protected by sealants are three times less likely to have cavities than those without.
How about dental veneers?
Sealants give the tooth a protective coating. The same is true of veneers, but this covering is more cosmetic or restorative. Veneers are used to fix a tooth, fill a gap, or help give teeth that are misshapen with bulges or uneven areas a more normal appearance.
Dental veneers can also restore even coloring to teeth that are badly stained and don’t respond to whitening treatments. Veneers are ideal if you have teeth that are badly stained from the use of tetracycline during childhood, stains from excessive fluoride, and oversized fillings.
Veneers can be made from either composite resin or porcelain. Porcelain is often preferred because it looks natural and resists staining. Composite is cheaper and easier to repair. It’s important to take your budget into consideration, ask your dental insurance if they cover both or not, and then see a dentist to see which is best for your needs.
Applying Dental Sealants
How are dental sealants placed on the teeth? It’s not too different from applying gel nail polish to fingernails.
Before sealants are applied, the tooth is cleaned and dried. Once that step is completed, an acidic gel is applied to the tooth. This degrades the surface enough so that the sealant has a strong bond. The gel is rinsed away and the sealant is painted on. Special lighting hardens the coating.
Sealants can be placed over areas of early decay. This stops additional damage to the enamel in that area. Your dentist can advise you if sealants are possible in your situation.
Once applied, sealants are thin and barely noticeable. They’re tooth-colored, clear, or slightly tinted, so they’re not noticeable either.
Affixing Dental Veneers
Sealants are painted onto the teeth. How are veneers affixed?
Porcelain veneers are affixed to the teeth. The process begins by taking a mold of the teeth that you want to be fixed. Once the molds are ready, the thin, shell-like veneers are cast from porcelain. After they cure, they’re removed from the mold and readied to adhere to the tooth.
Your tooth also needs to be prepared. It is etched to remove some of the enamel. You may be given a cap to put over the teeth until the porcelain veneers are ready to affix several days later. When you return, the veneer is cleaned, inspected, and bonded to the tooth. Benefits are:
Composite resin veneers are even easier. You have indirect and direct composite resin veneers. Indirect are made outside of the mouth in a lab. Direct are applied right in the dentist’s office.
Direct veneers are considered the least invasive method and also the most affordable. The teeth are prepared for the composite resin coating. It’s shaped to the tooth and bonded to the tooth using special lighting. Once the veneer is set, it is polished to look like the rest of your teeth.
Indirect are contain the same composite resin material, but they’re made in a lab, similar to porcelain veneers. An adhesive is used to affix the resin veneer to the prepared tooth. They resist more wear than direct composite resin veneers. Composite resin isn’t as strong as porcelain, however, so you may be replacing them more often. That said, the benefits of composite resin are:
- The strongest veneer there is
- Does a good job at fixing coloring and tooth alignment issues
- Look natural
Keep in touch with your dentist after veneers are placed. If it feels like your bite is wrong or something is loose, schedule a follow-up appointment. If you notice something feels wrong when they’re placed, speak up.
Some people are not good candidates for dental veneers. If you grind your teeth, you shouldn’t get them or you must agree to wear a nightguard while you sleep. You cannot have gum disease or decaying teeth. If you do, those issues must first be addressed.
- Less expensive
- Quicker application process
- Covers many of the issues that draw you to veneers, such as discoloration and chips
Things to Keep In Mind
Once you have sealants or veneers, you need to see your dentist regularly. You need to have the veneers checked regularly to make sure they haven’t loosened or cracked. You need to stop chewing items that may fracture your veneers, including ice cubes, hard candies, fingernails, and hard, crunchy foods like popcorn kernels and Corn Nuts.
Sealants are expected to last several years. In some cases, they last close to a decade. When the coating does start to wear away, it’s important to get more applied as the enamel was damaged by the acid. Your dentist will check the current coating of dental sealant at each visit.
Take care of your teeth. Go for regular cleanings and dental examinations. You should go at least twice a year. You may be authorized to see your dentist up to four times a year, depending on your insurance policy. Between visits, make sure you’re brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing a minimum of once. Brushing about an hour after every meal is even better.
Choose a toothpaste that has the ADA Seal of Acceptance. These products meet the American Dental Association’s standards for effectiveness and product safety. Plus, you know they have the right amount of fluoride to help take care of your teeth.
Talk to a Dentist That Specializes in Cosmetic Dentistry
Do veneers or dental sealants sound like exactly what you need? It’s time to arrange a consultation. Choose a dentist that specializes in cosmetic dentistry about veneers. At Jody Jones DDS, dental veneers are a specialty. Veneers are designed to match your current tooth color, or you could have them a shade whiter if you prefer. Dr. Jones and his team are happy to give you the smile of your dreams.
Dr. Jody Jones also offers dental sealants to help protect your teeth. Not only are sealants perfect for children, but they’re also a great idea for adults who have pits and pockets in their back molars. Our office can help you learn more about your insurance coverage, as some plans pay for preventative measures like sealants.
Request an appointment today. Dr. Jody Jones and his staff are happy to discuss the benefits of each and whether you’re a good candidate. It’s easy to make an appointment by phone or through the online appointment scheduler.