Your dentist says your child has a cavity and recommends a dental crown. A crown for a baby tooth? Yes, it’s true. And there are several good reasons why a dental crown is often the right course of restorative dentistry for your child.
The Importance of Repairing Baby Teeth
Your first reaction to the diagnosis of your child needing a crown might be, “Why can’t you just pull the tooth out?” It is a baby tooth, after all. They’re going to lose it eventually. Baby teeth, however, play an important role in the development of your child’s mouth.
Most critically, primary teeth are a placeholder for the permanent tooth, reserving that area of the gum until an adult tooth is ready to erupt. Baby teeth also help your child speak and chew properly. Though kids start to lose their teeth around age 6, those baby molars won’t be lost until the pre-teen years, around age 12.
If you were to pull a baby tooth just to prevent the need for a dental crown for your child, other interventions like a space maintainer would have to be put into place so the permanent tooth eventually has room to push through. You want your child’s mouth to develop properly. Making sure teeth come and go as they’re meant to helps minimize the need for major orthodontic treatment later.
Restorative Dentistry for Kids
If your dentist suggests a stainless steel crown for your child, know that this is not uncommon. Your child can probably name a few kids in his or her class who already have a crown.
Keep in mind that baby teeth do not have a thick layer of enamel like adult teeth. The inner pulp is larger, and it is much closer to the surface. Should decay develop, it can spread through the enamel quickly and reach the pulp much faster than a cavity would in a permanent tooth. Time is of the essence when repairing a child’s tooth so that complex and involved treatment can be avoided. Should your child need pulp therapy, the tooth may be compromised and too weak for a filling. A crown keeps the tooth strong and keeps decay at bay.
Dental crowns cover the entire tooth, preventing decay from developing on that tooth, and they come in several forms:
- Stainless steel crowns are the most common crown used in pediatric dentistry. They are reliable, customizable, cost-effective, and often used for molars.
- Porcelain crowns can be made with resin or porcelain-fused-to-metal. They are durable and look like natural teeth.
- Strip crowns are crowns filled with composite and fitted to the child’s tooth, then the shell is removed leaving behind a natural-looking tooth.
- White dental crowns are ceramic-like, made of zirconia and metal free. They look the best of all crowns and are incredibly durable.
All crowns, most importantly, protect the problem tooth after it has been treated, which helps prevent the spread of decay.
Protecting Kids’ Teeth from Decay
Tooth decay is preventable, and it begins with being dedicated to your child’s oral health:
- Clean your child’s teeth every day, and even when they’re old enough to do it themselves, assist and supervise to ensure that the brushing and flossing are thorough.
- Buy fluoride toothpaste to strengthen tooth enamel.
- Get sealants on permanent teeth to protect them from decay.
- Ensure that your child is getting enough fluoride. Options include chewable fluoride supplements and in-office fluoride treatments at every dental cleaning.
Visit Dr. Mitul Patel, Johns Creek restorative dentist and family dentist to discuss your child’s oral health, or to get a second opinion about recommendations for treatment from another dentist. Help set your child up for a healthy mouth and teeth for a lifetime.