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Is a Crown Necessary for My Child’s Baby Tooth?

November 4, 2019

Why would my child’s tooth need a crown?

There are several reasons why your dentist might recommend placing a crown on your child’s tooth. The main reason is if the cavity on the tooth is large. Baby teeth are not just smaller versions of adult teeth. They have thinner layers of enamel, the protective outer layer. A thinner layer means that a cavity can grow and affect the nerve of the tooth faster than it could in an adult tooth. Once a cavity gets close to the nerve, it will likely need nerve treatment, often called a “baby root canal” this is not as invasive as an adult root canal, but it does leave the tooth weaker and more prone to breakage if not protected. Cavities often occur on more than one surface of a tooth, so instead of placing multiple fillings on one tiny tooth, a crown would cover all of the surfaces. The crown will protect the tooth from future decay and breakage.

Isn’t the tooth going to fall out anyway?

 Although baby teeth do not stay in the mouth forever, they do perform vital roles for the time they are supposed to be there. Primary teeth hold the space in the jaw for the developing adult tooth underneath, the early loss of these teeth can cause space loss and significant issues with crowding and future orthodontic needs. Baby teeth are also required for proper speech development and the ability to chew food. Baby molars are needed in the mouth until ages 10-13 when they naturally fall out and are replaced by permanent teeth.

Which material will be used to make the dental crown?

The tried and trusted material for children’s dental crowns is stainless steel. This material has been used for many years and had many studies done about its effectiveness. The material is relatively inexpensive because eventually, these teeth will fall out. If the look of stainless steel is undesirable by the parents and patient, there may be an option to use a white ceramic or porcelain crown. These can be more costly, more prone to breakage and are newer, less tested materials. Your dentist will help determine if your child is a candidate for a white crown, but there are more limitations with these materials than stainless steel.

Why can’t the dentist place a filling instead?

The small size of baby teeth makes it difficult to restore with just fillings when a cavity takes up a noticeable portion of the tooth. When a cavity is removed from the tooth, it involves removing some surrounding tooth structure as well to ensure bacteria is not left inside. When a cavity takes up a significant portion of the tooth, there may not be enough natural tooth structure left to provide strength. In this case, a filling would not be strong enough to protect the tooth and could result in a broken tooth or another cavity developing around the filling. A dental crown covers the entire tooth and acts as a helmet to stand up to chewing, grinding, biting and other stresses children place on their teeth.

Often adults hear “dental crown” and worry the procedure is as invasive and time-consuming as having a crown placed on an adult tooth. The dental crowns for kids come pre-fabricated and are sized and placed in one appointment. Thankfully, the procedure for placing a dental crown on a baby tooth is very similar to having a dental filling placed.

If you believe your child may need a dental crown, or would like more information. Contact us to schedule your free consultation today.

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