My Child needs Pediatric Dental Crowns. What are my Options?

Dental crowns are the best solution to most kinds of dental issues that people face. Dental crowns are placed on the original teeth and help in preserving the original tooth in order to protect them from further harm. It is important to preserve the original tooth rather than extracting the same as research has suggested that extraction of tooth might not be the best solution for most kinds of dental problems. When a tooth can be preserved, all efforts must be taken to remove the infected or problematic portions from a tooth and steps must be taken to preserve the rest of the original tooth.

This is especially true when it comes to pediatric dental issues. Primary teeth, which is the first set of teeth that a child gets when they start teething, is the most delicate form of teeth with a thin enamel and an exposed or vulnerable pulp (in comparison to permanent teeth). Children are susceptible to issues such as early age caries, tooth decay and other such issues when proper care is not provided to primary teeth. This often results in children needing dental care such as Pulpectomy, Pulpotomy and the fitment of dental crowns post the procedure.

Most parents believe that infected primary teeth should be removed as it is the best way to prevent the infection from spreading and causing pain for the child. Much research and study in this area has infact revealed the opposite. Pediatric dentists reveal that primary teeth are as important for children as permanent teeth for adults, even if they are only present for a few years in the child's mouth. Primary teeth have many functions which would be impossible to maintain if they are extracted on the behest of a dental issue. Some of these roles are listed below:

  • Primary teeth help children maintain their oral functions such as mastication
  • Primary teeth help children maintain their appearance and therefore self-confidence
  • Primary teeth is important for speech and enunciation which is essential while growing up
  • Primary teeth hold space for the permanent teeth and help in proper alignment when the later starts appearing.

These are some of the reasons why preserving primary teeth has become of paramount importance. Pediatric dentists and researchers have come up with a bunch of alternatives so that primary teeth can be preserved despite issues such as Caries and Dental infections. Alternatives for these include the likes of Dental crowns amongst others such as dental caps, fillings, bridges and even implants in some cases. Dental crowns however are the most suitable and the most successful of all these alternatives. Dental crowns, infact, are the easiest as well as the most long-lasting solution for a temporary issue, such as the protection of primary teeth in children.

Dental Crowns for Children

For parents who are looking for what steps can be taken to protect a child’s original primary tooth, now that you know the importance of the same, knowing about dental crowns can be quite helpful. A dental crown is made from a variety of materials and looks pretty much like a crown that sits on top of the original tooth. This crown is made to protect and conserve the original tooth structure within, while acting as a tooth in itself by carrying out all the functionalities of a tooth such as chewing, holding the dental space and providing a tooth-like appearance. Dental crowns are fitted after a procedure that is done to the original tooth where the infected or decayed portion of the tooth is removed by the dentist and cleaned thoroughly by scaling it down. A luting agent of choice is then used to seal the crown on top of the original tooth, thereby restoring the functionality of the tooth as such.

A tooth decay or infection is not the only reason why a crown can be a quick fix. There are many conditions in which a crown can be a good solution to overcome a bunch of dental problems including:

  • Dental cracks or fractures
  • Broken or misshapen tooth
  • Discoloured teeth etc.

In these scenarios, a parent may choose to have a dental crown affixed by scaling down the original tooth, thereby preserving the original tooth and being able to provide a more aesthetically pleasing option for the child. Given the modern needs and necessities today, dental crowns can fix a lot of issues both medically and cosmetologically even in the case of children. Primary teeth, even though temporary, last for upto 13 years and sometimes more in children which is a considerable period of time and therefore, esthetics and functionality are important factors to consider.

There is a wide variety of dental materials that can be chosen by parents and the patient based on the preference of the parties. In some cases, the dentists may recommend a certain type of restorative material if there is an underlying condition. For example: some kids may have bruxism in which case a ceramic or All-porcelain crown may not be a suitable option. Some kids on the other hand may have nickel allergy in which case a metallic crown may not be suitable. In such cases, doctors may recommend a particular kind of crown that would make the best sense for the patient's condition.

Types of Dental Crowns for Children

There are plenty of options today owing to the vast array of restorative materials that are available in the market. Patients can now choose a definitive type of crown that suits not only their requirement but also their budget. Below are some of the most common kinds of dental crowns that most pediatric dentists prefer worldwide:

Stainless Steel Crowns

Stainless Steel crowns are the most common types of pediatric crowns. Most dentists prefer to use stainless steel tooth crowns over any other option owing to their simplicity, functionality and ease of use. They are one of the easiest options for patients to adopt as well. Stainless steel crown tooth is majorly made from nickel and a combination of other alloy materials that provide it with strength, durability and flexural strength.

Stainless steel crowns for pediatric dentistry have been in use for over 70 years now and are still relevant in a technologically advanced period of time today. Pediatric Stainless steel crowns are safe for children and cause almost no reactions or allergies in most patients. Prefabricated stainless steel crowns also provide the ease of picking up a crown that is pre-formed and ready-to-go, which means that crown fitments can be done instantly and take very less chair-side time.

Stainless steel crowns for adults are used only in patients where the patient has low dental hygiene or less access to dental care facilities. Patients with mental health illness or older patients are the ideal candidates besides children as both parties need durable options that are well within budget. Stainless steel crowns in children are optimally used as kids grow out of these crowns pretty fast as primary teeth naturally exfoliate and therefore many parents prefer to have an economic option for such crowns. Moreover, kids may also lose their crowns often and need more crowns during the course which makes Stainless steel crowns a better option than the rest of them.

The only disadvantages with Stainless Steel crowns is the jarring metal appearance that may not be ideal for some older kids. Older kids may prefer something that is more aesthetically pleasing and therefore stainless steel tooth crowns may not be a great option for such conscious patients. The other issue with Stainless steel crowns is with metal allergies - children with metal or nickel allergy in specific, are not ideal candidates for stainless steel crowns.

Pediatric Zirconia Crowns

Zirconia crowns are a type of ceramic crown made from Zirconia Dioxide, a naturally occurring mineral. Zirconia offers the best esthetically pleasing crown option for kids who want a naturally coloured option. For kids who have anterior crown requirements, stainless steel crown teeth may not be a suitable option. In such cases, pediatric Zirconia crowns can be a good alternative. These crowns have an opaque white structure which can be glazed with stains to make it look more natural.

Zirconia crowns also offer incredible strength and durability and are a great option for kids who need a good set of dental crowns that last 10 years or more. For kids who lose their anterior teeth due to some incident, they can choose the Zirconia crown for its aesthetic appeal, strength, durability and ease of use. There are many kinds of Zirconia crowns and patients can choose one based on their requirement and their budget. Zirconia crowns may cost a little higher than other dental crown options.

Composite Resin Crowns

Composite Resin crowns are made from a combination of Composite and Resin materials to look like a plastic crown that covers the original tooth providing good flexural strength. They are cheaper than Zirconia and other kinds of ceramic crowns but also offer lesser strength and durability than ceramic and stainless steel crown options. They are suitable, however, for a temporary restoration option, which is why they are great for children with primary teeth issues.

Composite resin crowns have a mild translucent appearance which make them suitable for both posterior and anterior restorations. They are also cheaper than Zirconia and other ceramic crown options and therefore can be a good middle ground for most patients looking for something less metallic and still within budget. Composite crowns however are not suitable for patients with heavier bite force, bruxism or for extended usage. Their average lifespan is around 5 years.