Up until recently, any decay in the grooves of permanent teeth (no matter
how small) was treated by getting the tooth "numbed," removing the entire
groove, and filling it with a silver restorative material. Diagram "A" shows
the relative size of the decay (black dot) and the size of the filling after tooth
preparation (shaded area).

            Diagram  A                                                     Diagram  B


New techniques and materials now allow us to remove only the area that is
decayed and replace it with a tooth-colored restorative material. Then,
rather than removing the healthy part of the groove, we can place a sealant.
Diagram "B" shows how this would appear, with the black dot now repre-
senting the size of the filling and the shaded area showing the area that is
sealed, but not removed.

The advantages of this approach are:
1. Saves more healthy tooth structure
2. Preventive in nature
3. Tooth may not require "numbing"
4. Natural appearance

The disadvantages of this approach are:
1. Requires more steps and time to accomplish
2. Many insurance companies cover the procedure at a lower percentage
3. Your out-of-pocket responsibility may be $20 per tooth higher

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