The Benefits of the Added Protection of Baby Dental Crowns
Surprised when the dentist says your child needs a filling or even dental crowns? Whether your child indulges in sweets or not, whether they are brushing superstars or still learning good habits, cavities can happen.
Though good dental and eating habits help to prevent cavities, they still happen to the best of us.
Most of the time small cavities can be fixed with a simple dental filling. However, if there is significant tooth decay, a developmental defect or a fractured tooth, your child may benefit from a baby dental crown for more protection.
What are dental crowns?
You have probably heard of dental crowns for adult teeth to protect them from further tooth decay or fracturing after a root canal. But most parents are a little surprised when they hear their child may need a dental crown instead of a tooth filling on a baby tooth. Sometimes a dental crown is necessary to help restore form and function to a baby molar until it is ready to naturally exfoliate.
Tooth decay in children is common, but is easily prevented. You have a greater risk for tooth decay with the following:
- Poor oral hygiene habits
- Frequent consumption of high sugary foods/beverages
- Developmental defects
- Eating disorders
- Acid reflux disease
- Lack of fluoride
A dental filling is used to treat smaller tooth decay, but when there is a cavity between teeth, sometimes a dental crown is the best treatment option as a “long-term” restoration. A composite filling, or white filling is a great solution for tooth decay on chewing surfaces of teeth, however once tooth decay extends to other areas of the tooth, a crown provides the most support.
Most of the time dental crowns in children can be placed in a single dental visit. Unlike adult crowns, crowns for baby teeth are prefabricated and can easily adapt to the tooth. There are several types of dental crowns at your Rochester dentist depending on your needs and budget.
Types of Dental Crowns
- Zirconia: Prefabricated white crowns are preferred by many parents because they look natural and blend in with adjacent teeth. These zirconia-type crowns are the most aesthetic choice of crowns for baby teeth, but do have certain drawbacks.
The cost of zirconia crowns is usually higher than other types of crowns in kids. Some dental insurance may not cover the cost because they consider it a cosmetic, elective treatment compared to a traditional stainless steel crown. Zirconia crowns can also take a bit longer in treatment because they require more tooth structure to be removed and they are not as flexible a material. Lastly, they can fracture or chip, requiring a new crown or patchwork. Still, most parents prefer zirconia type crowns simply because it provides full coverage protection and a highly cosmetic alternative to other crowns.
- Resin Veneer: A great option for a baby crown is a stainless steel crown with a white facing. This solution is beneficial because it provides an aesthetic and durable option. These types of crowns are similar to zirconia crowns in that they require greater tooth structure removal and are pre-contoured.
- Stainless Steel Crowns: A stainless steel crown is the most traditional type of crown for baby molars. The primary reason for their commonality is that they are inexpensive and designed to last several years until the baby tooth falls out. Unlike other materials, stainless steel is biocompatible, very durable, and adapts very well to the individual tooth.
Stainless steel crowns can be adapted and contoured to fit the needs of your child’s baby tooth, especially when there is space loss due to tooth decay or trauma. The main downside of a stainless steel crown is the aesthetics, but most children are content and happy to show off their new, superpower tooth.
The most common question Dr Shea gets about baby crowns is why does a baby tooth need a filling or dental crown instead of it being removed? We all know baby teeth will fall out so many parents can’t understand the premise for fixing it. While baby teeth will eventually exfoliate, most times children will not lose baby molars until 10 to 12 years old. This means a younger child will have that tooth for several years and tooth decay can cause pain, infection, or damage to the erupting permanent tooth.
Baby teeth serve as the most natural and effective space holders for adult teeth. Pulling a tooth instead of restoring it can cause problems with space loss and the delay of the permanent tooth from erupting. Many children who have a baby tooth pulled years before the permanent tooth erupts require space maintainers to prevent teeth from shifting. This treatment requires additional time and cost.
A baby tooth with larger tooth decay or a fracture can benefit from a dental crown as it protects it from breaking down and can restore it to natural function allowing your child to chew comfortably. If your child has pain and needs emergency treatment, sometimes a temporary tooth filling is performed until your appointment can be made for a dental crown.
Dental crowns are one of the most effective ways to help restore and maintain a baby tooth until it is ready to exfoliate. Fortunately there are several options for parents to discuss with their dentist in Rochester, New York, to get their child the healthy smile they deserve.