The Stainless Steel Crown - A Restoration that is Underutilised in Paediatric Dentistry

Dentistry has come a far way when compared to what it was a few decades ago. Dentistry was a part of general medicine but with very few people specialising in the same, the care that could be given to patients for specific dental issues was limited. With the growth in dental sciences and the advent in technology that enables dentists to diagnose and treat issues, it is now possible to care for the patient in a better, more effective way. Dental hygiene is now given its due relevance and importance and is being practised more actively by patients thanks to the awareness that has been created by dentists and dental technicians worldwide. Another factor causing dental awareness is surely the cost that is attached to dental care which makes it pivotal to keep a check on dental health.

Paediatric Dental Care

Paediatric Dentistry is a branch that comes under the large umbrella that is Dentistry. Paediatric Dentistry deals with the dental requirements of children below the age of 12. Sometimes even babies who have caries due to exposure to milk need dental treatments. When it comes to paediatric dentistry, caries and decay are the most common causes that forces children to get dental treatments. But the biggest misconception amongst parents and caretakers when it comes to dental problems in baby teeth is that they do not need any treatment because of their temporary nature. But this is a big misnomer since baby teeth are very important for adult life and the growth of permanent teeth.

The teeth that a baby has is often referred to as milk teeth or baby teeth. These teeth are temporary and are usually completely replaced in the child’s mouth by the time they are 13 years of age. The first teeth that a baby gets is around 6 to 8 months of age and by 10 years of age, most children have a set of 20 baby teeth which slowly start to fall off in the order that they appear.

Baby teeth are more susceptible to external factors such as carries, plaque accumulation and eventual decay. This is because baby teeth have a very thin layer of enamel and the pulp - enamel being the outermost layer of the teeth that fights off germs and primary infections and provides the colour of the teeth. The pulp - which is the innermost part of a tooth that is attached to the nerves and the root of the gum, is also quite close to the gum line and is larger in size in case of baby teeth. These two reasons along with the general fact that kids eat more sweets and are exposed to poor dental hygiene make up for the fact that baby teeth are affected by caries and decay most frequently.

It is necessary to preserve the baby teeth and must be given proper dental care so that the decay is removed and caps or crowns are used. This is pivotal for many factors and unlike common myth, even if baby teeth fall off naturally, it is important to get them checked in time. Below are the reasons why:

  • Baby teeth hold the space for permanent teeth that eventually sprout
  • Baby teeth help in proper alignment of the jaw
  • Baby teeth help in proper mastication of food for young kids
  • Baby teeth help in proper enunciation and speech training at early age
  • Baby teeth helps in self confidence and aesthetics of the face

These are some of the important factors why baby teeth must be preserved and paying attention to dental care from the very beginning is necessary. Many parents would let the teeth get rotten and fall off but this might lead to infections and cause pain and discomfort for the kid. But this is a practice that is condemned by the dental society simply because of the listed factors.

Stainless Steel Crowns for Baby Teeth

Stainless steel crown is a type of dental crown that is used as the best temporary solution for baby teeth.Stainless steel crown for adults is seldom used because of its apparent metal colour but these crowns are very useful for temporary restorations even in adults. Stainless steel crowns are made from a mixture of iron, nickel, chromium and other elements in small quantities.

Traditional Stainless steel crowns are made 67% with iron but another variety of stainless steel crown is now in use with a majority of nickel in its composition. Both of these varieties of stainless steel crown for paediatric dentistry are common across the world.

Stainless steel crown tooth has a number of pros but there are some cons that make it more suited for baby teeth than for permanent teeth in adults. Baby teeth require only temporary restorations for which stainless steel tooth crown is apt. In adults there are some characteristics which may restrict their usage, few of which are mentioned below:

  • In permanent teeth, the need for permanent restorations is higher and therefore stainless steel crowns
  • Stainless steel crowns are aesthetically less pleasing, much like all metal crowns and therefore not very patient friendly
  • In comparison to other dental crown material available for adults such as Porcelain fused with Metal and All Porcelain or Zirconia crowns, stainless steel crowns are generally less preferred by patients
  • Cost wise, Porcelain fused with metal is a close competitor to stainless steel crowns making the latter more preferable due to its teeth coloured exterior
  • Restoration time, contouring and adjustments take longer for adult teeth especially with

These are some reasons why stainless steel crown teeth are not widely used in adults. However, stainless steel crowns have remained one of the most popular dental crown materials for years ever since its inception and usage in the 1960’s.

Advantages of Paediatric Stainless Steel Crowns

Paediatric stainless steel crowns are mostly plug and play - which means that they are prefabricated and come in a variety of sizes and shapes which can be easily adapted to the baby teeth for children. Their aesthetics are not very important when it comes to posterior teeth restorations as they are temporary in nature. They survive the short duration of time in which the baby tooth is naturally lost and permanent teeth start to make its way through. Stainless steel crowns for paediatric dentistry is highly recommended by dentists all over the world and some of the advantages are mentioned below:

1. Prefabricated Stainless steel crowns

Prefabricated stainless steel crowns are the common method of usage in paediatric dentistry as these crowns come pre trimmed and contoured and only require minor adjustments at the chair side

2. Suitable for Anxious patients

Children, old patients and the mentally ill patients have anxiety when it comes to dental treatments making dentists' jobs that much harder. For such patients, stainless steel crowns are best as there is very little chair time when it comes to prefabricated stainless steel crowns

3. Irregular Dental Hygiene

The above stated category of patients - children, old patients and the mentally challenged - often do not have good dental hygiene and rarely are able to access dental care. In such cases, stainless steel crown for adults and children are most suitable.

4. Aesthetics

In children with baby teeth, the temporary nature of the tooth complements the lack of aesthetics in stainless steel crowns - baby teeth naturally fall off along with the crown paving way for secondary pr permanent teeth and therefore, aesthetics is not a big deal breaker in this regard

5. Cost

Stainless steel crowns are the most economical options especially for kids who tend to get cavities, carries and decayed teeth more often than others and may require repetitive crowns or multiple dental crowns. Given its temporary nature, investing in expensive crowns is not preferred by caretakers

After Care and Maintenance

Stainless Steel crowns are easy to maintain and have far less after care for children. Regular oral hygiene which includes brushing twice a day and flossing once a day is generally enough when it comes to stainless steel crowns. Inspecting the stainless steel crowns once in 6 months by a dentist can be favourable for kids and helps in keeping a check on the dynamic nature of baby teeth. RInsing the mouth after consuming sweet delicacies and sticky toffees can be a great way to sustain and improve the longevity of the stainless steel crowns in the children’s mouth.