Dental crowns are an investment in keeping a tooth as long as possible. Even for children, dental crowns protect their developing smiles because their jaws are still forming. Any tooth gaps that arise when a tooth is pulled early because of decay, or even injury from an accident or contact sports, can leave your child dealing with serious dental problems later.
Primary Teeth Placeholders
Your child’s primary teeth serve as placeholders for their incoming permanent teeth, and teeth tend to shift as their jawbone grows. When teeth are shifting, they may end up causing crowding and misalignment of the teeth. If this happens, your child will likely end up needing orthodontic intervention down the road, among other potential dental treatments.
This is why our dentist often recommends having your child get a dental crown rather than pull a primary tooth prematurely. Exceptions might occur if the tooth is severely infected (with an abscess) or the cavity is too large to support a filling. The bottom line is that getting a dental crown now can save your child from dental treatment and costs later.
What Is a Crown?
A tooth has two parts; the roots that anchor the tooth in the jawbone and a crown that is set onto a tooth to keep it covered, thereby restoring its full size, shape, and strength (necessary for proper biting and chewing). The crown caps the damaged area of the tooth to preserve it and keep it safe. Your child’s dental crown will help ensure that the incoming permanent tooth behind it can come in correctly after the primary tooth is eventually pushed out.
Why Your Child Might Need a Dental Crown
The crown is essentially placed so a damaged tooth can still function, allowing your child to eat, speak and chew while also looking normal. The following are all good reasons to give your child’s smile the support of a dental crown on a primary tooth:
- The cavity is too big to support a dental filling.
- The tooth is cracked or extensively worn down.
- A root canal was done, and it now needs the crown to protect it.
- Their tooth is badly shaped or discolored.
Since a primary tooth has enamel that tends to be on the thin side, they are more vulnerable to the destructive nature of cavities, which ultimately tend to spread more easily and impact a greater area of the tooth. Getting a crown effectively rescues the tooth, encasing it so it can continue to act as a placeholder while the adult tooth comes in when it is ready.
There are a variety of dental crown materials, and choosing the right one largely depends on the following:
- Where the tooth is placed and how it functions
- How the gum tissue fits around it
- How much of the tooth shows (front and side teeth)
- The tooth’s color
Common Dental Crowns for Primary Teeth
- Stainless Steel Crowns: These “silver” crowns are strong, durable and ideal if you don’t mind how they look.
- Stainless Steel Crowns With White Facings: These are strong and look nicer on the front teeth.
- Composite or Resin Crowns: These take a little more time to place and are great for older children.
- Zirconia Crowns: These white ceramic crowns are both strong and natural-looking.
Your child’s primary teeth are crucial during the development of their mouth and jaw. There are times when a dental crown may be needed to save a tooth until it is ready to fall out as the permanent tooth comes in behind it. If you have questions or want to schedule your child’s dental visit, we welcome you to reach out to our dental team today!