Applications of sealants help protect teeth that are compromised by uncomplicated fracture or enamel defects (like enamel hypoplasia). Sealants provide temporary protection for weeks to months until a tooth can seal itself permanently. All sealants are eventually lost. When a sealant is placed, the material flows down into the exposed dentinal tubules sealing them from bacteria. Tooth sensitivity is also decreased. If the tooth is in otherwise good endodontic health, a new layer of tertiary/reparative dentin will form a permanent barrier. Follow up dental x-rays are recommended to verify formation of this tertiary dentin barrier and confirm endodontic health approximately 6 – 12 months after a procedure.
Like sealants, composite restorations are also a protective material applied to the teeth. However, composite restorations are thicker and provide a more robust protective layer. In human dentistry, composites are the white “fillings” used for treating cavities. In veterinary dentistry, dental composites have many applications. They are most often used to restore teeth after root canal therapy is performed. They can also be applied to teeth with cavities, to defects from enamel hypoplasia, and to help reshape teeth. Sometimes, composites are also used in orthodontic devices, in oral fractures repairs, and in fabricating partial crowns. Depending on a patient’s chewing habits, degree of wear, and function of the composite restoration, periodic touch-up composite restoration may be necessary over time.