We heard this story from one of our patients: “As a young child I was racing my brother down a hill. I won the race but fell and knocked off part of my front tooth. When I went to the dentist, he put in a silver crown. That was the day I started to hide behind my hand. Eventually I stopped smiling all together. Until one day, I had a new dentist. He told me and my mother that he was going to make me smile again. This was years ago and there was no such thing as white crowns for children. But somehow he came up with a way to make the front of that silver crown white. He truly did a wonderful thing – I was only 8 years old and he gave me back my smile. I will remember him forever.”
Dental Crowns for Children
Dental crowns, or ‘caps’, are designed to replace tooth structure that may be missing due to injury or tooth decay. Crowns completely cover a tooth to protect and strengthen the remaining tooth. Sometimes the best treatment option for children is to place a crown on primary teeth, or `baby teeth`. Placing tooth-colored dental crowns for children helps them keep a more natural smile and could be a better option over stainless steel crowns.
When is a Crown Needed?
Tooth decay is actually a bacterial infection and if not treated, the infection can spread and cause pain and other health problems. If your child develops cavities that are too large to be repaired with a filling, a dental crown may be recommended to save the tooth.
It’s important to save your child’s primary teeth rather than pull them and leave the empty space. Primary teeth help your child
1. bite and chew food well
2. develop normal speech
3. keep correct tooth spacing for permanent `adult` teeth to come in
Tooth-colored dental crowns can be placed on back molar teeth used for chewing, or front teeth that are so important for biting. In both cases the crown helps protect the tooth from further decay, cracking or breaking.
What is the Crown Procedure for Children?
Dental crowns for children are placed in just one visit. The area around the tooth is numbed first with topical gel on the gum tissue before the local anesthesia is injected. Once your child is completely numb, the tooth decay is carefully removed and the tooth is shaped to prepare it for the crown. Depending on the type of tooth-colored crown to be used, your child may or may not have an impression of the area. Once the crown is ready it is tried in to check the placement and contacts with adjacent teeth. When everything is correct, the crown is cemented into place. Your dentist will check the bite and make adjustments if needed.
Until the numbness wears off, your child should take care with eating, being careful not to bite the lip or cheek tissue. It’s not uncommon for some slight discomfort after a crown procedure, usually due to tooth or gum irritation, and usually lasts less than a day. Over-the-counter pain medication for children may help. If your child says the bite feels funny, the discomfort lasts longer than a day, or you have other concerns about the tooth or gums, please give the dentist a call.
Be sure to schedule dental cleanings and exams for your child every six months so the dentist can monitor the crown to be sure it’s working well.
Not every dental office offers tooth-colored white crowns for children. If you would like more information about crown options for children or would like to schedule an appointment for your child, at New Hampshire Center for Comprehensive Dentistry we are here to help. We want to keep your child smiling!