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Child Crowns

A crown is a covering placed over the entire tooth when a tooth has too much decay. It is also often referred to as a "cap."It's important to try to save primary teeth until they are ready to fall out on their own. A missing tooth can make it difficult to chew or speak properly. Permanent teeth also use primary teeth as a guide when they come in. If decay is occurring, causing issues on a primary tooth, it is best to try and save the tooth until it is ready to fall out on its own.

Your child may even need a crown for a relatively small cavity in a primary tooth. The layers of primary teeth are much thinner than permanent teeth, and even small fillings may weaken a primary tooth beyond its capacity. A crown is therefore used to strengthen a primary tooth and protect it from breaking or cracking.

Our dentists will place a crown over a primary tooth for a number of reasons. A child will hold typically 16 molars and 12 front teeth. If any one of these is in need for a dental crown the following reasons might include:

  • Extensive decay is found
  • When a filling too large would weaken a tooth
  • When a primary tooth has not developed normally
  • When a child has special needs or poor oral hygiene habits causing abnormally high decay
  • Large areas of decay on exist on several surfaces
  • The tooth has undergone root canal therapy (endodontic therapy)
  • The tooth has been broken and part of it has been lost due to trauma
  • The tooth did not develop normally
  • The tooth is discolored and the parent or child is concerned about how it looks

Pre-formed, stainless steel crowns are the most common crowns used in primary teeth. Stainless steel crowns have been used in children for over 50 years and are relatively easy to place and very durable. Studies have also shown that stainless steel crowns are about 50% less likely to fail compared to amalgam fillings.

Other types of crowns we use include strip crowns, open-faced steel crowns, veneered steel crowns, and zirconia crowns. Strip crowns are usually used for front teeth. Strip crowns use a tooth-colored plastic material. Open-faced steel crowns also use tooth-colored plastic in conjunction with a stainless steel backing. Open-faced steel crowns may show a little metal, but are very durable and stay in place well. Veneered steel crowns use a tooth-colored face that is bonded to the crown. Veneered steel crowns are also very durable but occasionally have issues with the facing popping off. Zirconia crowns use a hard, tooth-colored material but are stronger than strip crowns. Zirconia crowns are typically more costly than stainless steel but offer aesthetic, very durable solution for front teeth.

The Process

The first step to placing a crown begins with the removal of decay and shaping the tooth for crown placement. Once the tooth is prepared, our pediatric dentist will test for crown size and placement. The crown will be shaped to fit snug and as properly as possible. Stainless steel or open-faced crown will be polished and filled with cement. Open-faced crowns require, and additional step as the front is cut away and replace it with a tooth-colored material. Finally, our dentist will ensure your child has a correct bite.

Your child may experience some mild discomfort after the procedure. The discomfort should go away after the first 24 hours. If your child complains of pain for several days, contact us immediately. Your child should not eat until effects of the numbness and/or anesthesia wears off.