Dental crowns are for patients with teeth that are too decayed to fill. Crowns completely cover the tooth and help to hold a tooth together so the tooth can be saved instead of extracted. Putting crowns on baby teeth are different in a lot of ways although the purpose is the same. Pediatric crowns are used to:
- Restore a damaged tooth — one damaged by a trip and fall or even sports injuries, such as being hit in the mouth by a ball.
- Save a tooth that’s been badly damaged by decay to the extent that it can no longer support a filling.
How long do pediatric crowns last?
Putting crowns on baby teeth is often questioned because a child will typically lose all of their baby teeth. If a child needs a crown there are several factors that we need to consider:
- Age of your child: We are less likely to extract a tooth if it can be saved with a crown. Allowing your child to keep the tooth is a priority because it saves the much needed space that your child’s adult teeth will need. Putting a crown is also much less invasive and painful than pulling a tooth. Many parents are under the impression that baby teeth don’t have roots . . . but they do!
- How long your child will have the tooth: If your child is older and the tooth will come out on it’s own within about 2 years, we would opt for extraction especially if the tooth is bothering your child or if it will lead to an abscess. It’s important to remember that not all baby teeth come out at the same time. Baby teeth begin to exfoliate when a child is approximately 6 years old and a child may not lose all of their baby teeth until they are 12 or 13 years old! An x-ray will give us an indication of how long the baby tooth will be in your child’s mouth.
- Spacing of the teeth: As your child grows, it’s important that we do procedures to keep the alignment of the teeth intact. When your child is at the proper age we will refer them to someone who will evaluate their teeth for braces. Until they are ready for braces we want to make sure that we do everything that we can to help keep the spacing of your child’s teeth intact. Keeping the baby teeth may save you money on braces in the long run.
Pediatric crowns are done in one visit, unlike adult crowns. Because we know that our little ones have a short attention span, a pediatric crown is completed in about 45 minutes or less. This is why pediatric crowns are much cheaper than adult crowns.
After we assess if your child will need sedation for the crown to be put on their tooth, we numb the tooth and shave it down so that the crown can fit comfortably in your child’s mouth. Once we select the correct sized crown and manipulate it so that it fits your child’s tooth like a glove, we put a special cement inside the crown so that it will stay firmly luted to your child’s shaved down tooth.
As with any crown, it is extremely important that your child refrain from a sticky diet. Gummy foods will pull on the crown and eventually remove the crown. Changing a child’s diet greatly enhances the time that the crown will stay on the tooth. Ideally, the crown will stay until the baby tooth comes out on it’s own!
Pediatric crowns come in three types:
- Stainless Steel (silver) crowns: These silver crowns are the strongest of the three crowns. It is also important to note that these crowns are not like amalgam, which contains a minimal amount of mercury. The silver crowns are made from stainless steel which is the same material that we use to make silverware. If your child isn’t allergic to silverware they won’t have any problems with these stainless steel crowns.We don’t put these on anterior teeth because we have a more aesthetic alternative.
- Stainless crowns with resin facing: These crowns have the best of both worlds. They have the strength of stainless steel but the beauty of the white resin coating. These are the crowns that we put on the front teeth and they look great! There are some parents that prefer for these to be placed on the posterior teeth. Either way, it’s important that your child stay away from sticky, gummy foods.
- Zirconium crowns: This is the most aesthetic alternative and the most expensive. These crowns are also the most fragile. A diet free from sticky, gummy foods is essential to make sure that these crowns last.
Whichever crown your pediatric dentist chooses it is imperative that you help your child with their brushing and flossing. Even with a crown present decay can form underneath the crown without proper brushing and flossing.
Other information about pediatric dental crowns: