Even though baby teeth, or primary teeth, will eventually fall out, if they’re damaged or decayed, in many cases, they still need to be restored. This is because the primary teeth reserve space for the permanent teeth, aid in chewing, and play a role in speech and facial development. While a tooth-colored filling can often do the trick, sometimes, when a lot of the tooth’s structure is missing, a pediatric dental crown is the ideal restoration.
In the past, metal crowns were really the only option available for kids. And while they’re still a good choice for certain teeth, there are alternatives today and, yes, kids can get white crowns on their baby teeth. Being the leading-edge practice we are, we offer both stainless steel and white crowns for children at Innovative Pediatric Dentistry.
In this post, our Naperville pediatric dentists will go over:
- What is a dental crown?
- What are the different types of pediatric dental crowns?
- Why do kids need dental crowns?
- Can’t the baby tooth just be extracted?
- Choosing between white crowns vs. stainless steel crowns
- What happens when a child gets a crown on a baby tooth?
What is a Dental Crown?
A dental crown, or cap, is placed on top of a tooth that has a large cavity, fracture or other issue that can’t be fixed with a filling. It covers the entire visible portion of the tooth to the gum line and helps to restore the tooth’s strength, function, size and appearance.
What are the Different Types of Pediatric Dental Crowns?
There are several different types of pediatric dental crowns. The type that is used depends on which tooth it’s being placed on, the tooth size and how well the patient is able to cooperate. Options include:
Stainless Steel Crowns
Stainless steel crowns, also called metal crowns or silver crowns, are still the most commonly used crowns for children’s teeth. They’re strong, durable and cheaper than some of the other options.
However, they’re not the best choice for an anterior tooth (teeth in the front of the mouth) that can be seen when a child smiles, because they’re very visible. Instead, our Naperville kids’ dentists recommend stainless steel crowns for the back teeth. This is because the material can endure chewing forces and won’t be as noticeable on molars.
Metal Crowns With a White Front
Stainless steel crowns can be made with a white facing. This makes them more aesthetic when used on the front teeth. The plastic material is adhered to the metal so that it looks white when viewed from the front. This option is usually reserved for an anterior crown. However, while it will look more natural than a stainless steel crown, the white facing adds bulk so the crown can seem large. The white facing can also chip and reveal the metal underneath, particularly if your child grinds their teeth.
Composite Strip Crowns
Composite strip crowns, or resin crowns, are made of the composite material used for tooth-colored fillings. We recommend this choice for an anterior crown, because it will look natural and blend in with your child’s smile.
White, composite crowns are more durable and less bulky than a crown with just a white front. We’re also able to customize the crown to fit your child’s tooth, so less enamel needs to be removed when we prepare the tooth.
Zirconia crowns, or porcelain crowns, are aesthetic and durable white crowns. However, currently, zirconia crowns for children are only available pre-fabricated. Instead of making the crown fit the tooth like we do with a composite crown, we have to make the tooth fit the crown.
This means tooth prep is more extensive and the appointment is longer. Pre-fabricated zirconia crowns also tend to fall off. For these reasons, we only recommend these crowns at our practice in pre-selected, child- and tooth-dependent scenarios.
Why Do Kids Need Dental Crowns?
A dental crown on a baby tooth might be recommended for:
- Protecting a weak tooth from breaking
- Covering a tooth after removing a very large cavity
- Holding together the parts of a cracked or fractured tooth
- Covering a baby tooth after pulp therapy (root canal)
- Protecting and supporting a tooth that has a large filling and not a lot of structure left
- Covering severely misshapen or discolored teeth
Can’t the Baby Tooth Just be Extracted?
Our Naperville kids’ dentists make every effort to save your child’s natural tooth. While sometimes repairing a fracture or replacing lost tooth structure can be achieved with a filling, other times a dental crown is necessary.
Often, the process will just involve your child having a crown placed on their baby tooth. However, if the decay or an infection reaches the tooth’s pulp, which is the living tissue inside of a tooth, we may need to take additional steps.
The natural instinct in cases like this might be to have the tooth extracted, which will obviously treat the pulp infection. However, if a child’s tooth isn’t due to fall out in the near future, extracting it can lead to problems with the permanent teeth coming in (namely, crowding and/or impaction).
While a dental space maintainer can be placed after an extraction to save space for the permanent teeth, having a missing tooth can make a child feel self-conscious and interfere with chewing and speaking.
So, can you do root canals on baby teeth? Yes, you can do root canals on baby teeth. Often called a pulpotomy or pulpectomy, pulp therapy for a baby tooth is the same concept as a root canal on a permanent tooth. In order to save a tooth from severe decay, trauma or a pulp infection, we remove the nerve, blood vessels, bacteria and decay.
We then fill the empty space with special dental materials and, typically, cover it with a pediatric dental crown to restore it to full function until it’s ready to fall out naturally.
Choosing Between White Crowns vs. Stainless Steel Crowns
Stainless steel crowns are durable and effective. We recommend them for the posterior (back) teeth. Since these teeth aren’t as visible, going for a lasting, cost-effective stainless steel crown makes sense.
When it comes to an anterior crown, aesthetics is important. For front teeth, white crowns made of a composite material will blend in seamlessly with your child’s smile. Our composite crowns require less tooth preparation than zirconia crowns and are more streamlined than a metal crown with a white front.
What Happens When a Child Gets a Crown on a Baby Tooth?
If your child has a pulp infection or severe decay that has reached the soft tissue of their tooth, we’ll usually perform pulp therapy AND crown placement in one visit!
In general, here’s how placing crowns on baby teeth works:
- A Naperville kids’ dentist will use a local anesthetic to numb your child’s tooth and the surrounding area. We also offer safe sedation dentistry, including nitrous oxide and in-office general anesthesia. We’ll discuss your child’s needs and health history with you in order to decide on the best approach. Once your child is numb and/or sedated, the dentist will remove any decay and shape the tooth so that it will fit beneath the crown.
- If your child is getting a stainless steel crown, the dentist will choose a stainless crown in the correct size. They’ll polish it, fill it with cement and press it onto the prepared tooth before removing any extra cement.
- For a composite white crown, the dentist will create the crown by filling a mold with tooth-colored composite material and hardening it with a special curing light. When the crown is complete, they’ll use adhesive to bond it to your child’s tooth.
- Once the stainless or composite crown is in place, the dentist will check your child’s bite and make any necessary adjustments for fit and aesthetics.
Find out your options for pediatric stainless steel and white crowns in Naperville
If your child needs a dental crown, we’ll make the process positive and stress-free. We use the latest technology and tools for more comfortable, squirm-free treatment. Our expert dentists will be able to determine if a stainless steel or white crown is the best choice for your child’s tooth. Schedule a visit at Innovative Pediatric Dentistry in Naperville today!