Childrens teeth are quite different from adult teeth. Unlike most common perception, children’s teeth or baby teeth require more care and attention as they are susceptible to infection and many other problems early on in their age. Baby teeth are much more sensitive and premature and rarely ever survive tooth decay. This is the reason why kids in the age span of 7 to 12 years have more dental problems than kids who are older and in their adolescence. Stainless Steel Crowns are a popular option used by dentists all over the world to treat cavities that lead to decayed teeth and infected or damaged teeth in kids and babies. They are also recommended against metal fillings such as the silver filling which is a common dental filling option that helps in the routine cavity treatment for young kids who do not necessarily need a crown or a cap just yet.
Baby Teeth and its Maintenance
Baby teeth are medically known as Deciduous teeth or commonly known as milk teeth or primary teeth. These teeth start to show up in the baby’s mouth as early as 6 months of age and can be fully present by the time the kid is 2 to 3 years of age. There are usually 20 deciduous teeth in a child’s mouth by the time they are 3 years of age and mimic the functionality of the 27 teeth that an adult has. The only difference being that the teeth usually have a combined functionality unlike the adult teeth. As they near the age of 12 to 13, most of these primary teeth fall off and are replaced by permanent teeth.
There are plenty of functions and roles of primary teeth apart from just being a tool to chew food. Baby teeth or deciduous teeth serve many functionalities and help form a proper jawline in a child before their permanent set of teeths kick in. Some of the most important functionality of primary teeth is mentioned below:
1. Helps in Proper Functionality
Primary teeth or baby teeth help in the learning stage of the child when it starts to learn to chew the food and to masticate. This essential function is extremely important and requires baby teeth to effectively carry it out.
2. Helps in Preserving the Shape
The baby teeth start to fill out the jaw line and help in keeping the shape of the jaw intact. Children can talk, eat and smile better with a full set of teeth and this is essential for their healthy growth and aesthetic appeal
3. Helps in Permanent Teeth Placement
The most important functionality of a baby tooth is the proper alignment and growth of the permanent tooth. The primary tooth falls out eventually and permanent teeth start to sprout in the same place and thus are aligned in the jaw in the right formation. This is why dentists recommend restoring the baby teeth when they have decay or damage.
Baby Tooth Decay and Damage
Baby tooth has a very thin lining of enamel and the pulp of the tooth is also very close to the lining of the gum. This makes the teeth more vulnerable to damage and cavity than permanent teeth. This is the reason why oral and dental hygiene needs to be inculcated in children from an early age so that baby teeth can be cared for from the beginning and to avoid major damage such as the need for pulpal therapy or baby root canal.
Baby teeth or deciduous teeth can easily get affected by exposure to sugar and sugary fluids and improper hygiene. Dentists recommend children to keep their mouth clean by brushing at least twice a day and start as early as wiping the baby gums after feeding milk with a clean washcloth. This helps in protecting the gums and the teeth from plaque formation.
Baby teeth can develop carries, cavities and infection from excessive germ attack and residue after consumption of food. It is one of the most common occurrences for which kids need to get dental procedures done at a very young age. Some of the most common dental procedures that are done for children are:
1. Dental Fillings
Dental Fillings are the initial and first stage treatment for caries and small sized cavities. In this procedure, the dentist needs to only clear out the damaged part of the teeth or the tissues that have been infected and then fill the rest of the portion with cement. The most common type of filling that is used for kids is the silver metal filling as they are safe and have a good durability and strength that can last until the teeth naturally fall out. It is a small procedure and can be usually done within one seating. It requires less maintenance but patients are advised to take good care of their teeth and to visit the dentist frequently so as to keep an eye on any further infection of the root or in the gums.
2. Dental Crowns
Dental Crowns are the most preferred form of treatment if the most part of the teeth has been damaged by the infection. If the tooth has suffered any other kind of injury such as breaking, chipping or a small dental fracture, even then getting a dental crown affixed on the original tooth after undergoing a procedure to remove the infected or damaged portion is preferred by the dentists.
Stainless Steel Crowns are one of the most used and preferred forms of crowns for children as they are the safest and can last for as long as the primary teeth fall out. SThe crown fitment is usually prefabricated and takes up to 1 or 2 seatings to undergo the procedure. This method requires very less maintenance as well apart from general oral hygiene and regular dentist visits. Stainless steel crowns are discussed in detail in the upcoming sections.
3. Baby Root Canal or Pulpectomy
Baby root canal which is also called Pulpectomy or Pulp Therapy. This procedure is usually done when the most part of the tooth has decayed and has reached the root of the teeth. The dentist needs to save the pulp in such cases and clean the infected tissues so that the rest of the tooth can be preserved. In these procedures, once the tooth is restored, it is capped with a cap for baby teeth stainless steel crown to preserve the tooth and to restore its original functionality.
Stainless Steel Crowns for Kids
Stainless Steel Crowns are the most popular type of dental crown that is placed on top of a treated tooth to help keep the tooth intact after being treated from an infection or decay. Stainless steel crowns are pre-fabricated and come in all kinds of sizes and shapes so there is a wide variety to choose from once the child has undergone a procedure that requires a cap for baby teeth.
Stainless steel crowns are usually preferred for molars as they are the most affected kind of teeth in a child's mouth. Stainless steel crowns may not be aesthetically pleasing for front or anterior teeth but there are some tooth coloured options that are available in the market. The only downside of these options are that they are much more expensive and may only be needed for a certain number of years before the teeth naturally fall off. Stainless steel crowns, although apparently silver and metal-like, can still be a better choice when it comes to anterior and posterior teeth.
Advantages of Stainless Steel Crowns
Stainless steel crowns are revered to be one of the best kinds of dental crowns for children and some of the most popular reasons why is mentioned below:
Stainless Steel Crowns are more durable than Metal Fillings as published by a survey in the Journal of the American Dental Association. They stand a 6% higher chance of survival than metal fillings even after the 3 year mark post successful restoration of the child’s mouth. Stainless steel caps can last for a long time and are usually only needed for 5 to 10 years before the primary teeth fall out.
Stainless steel crowns are the most inexpensive crowns for kids. These crowns are prefabricated and in most cases, all the dentist needs to do is to pick out the right size and fit the cap on the restored tooth. They are much cheaper than tooth coloured alternatives for crowns and are durable enough to sustain until the permanent teeth start sprouting.
3. Full Coverage
The Stainless steel caps are prefabricated and can be contoured based on the shape and size of the original tooth. They provide full coverage protection to the teeth and keep the spacing intact while the primary teeth are replaced by permanent teeth. The absence of a primary tooth may cause the permanent teeth to rise crooked or misaligned.
4. Easy to Place
Stainless steel comes in a huge range and is extremely easy to use for the dentist. They pop on top of the teeth like a cap and can be easily adjusted based on the patient's gums. Some adjustment might be required which can be done once the cap is chosen and is then cemented to the original tooth.
5. Little to No Sensitivity
Stainless steel crowns are extremely safe and have little to no sensitivity once they are placed inside the mouth. The only discomfort that the patient may feel is the initial breaking-in period where the child tries to get used to the new feel of having a crown in the mouth. But otherwise the process is fairly easy to adapt to by kids.
Fitting of Stainless Steel Crowns for Kids
Stainless Steel crowns are the ultimate treatment option once the dentist has either restored the original teeth after pulp therapy or baby root canal for a damaged or broken tooth. In either case the patient or the child needs to first undergo the treatment to remove all infected material from the damaged tooth and in most cases, the dentist leaves inside a gel which is left behind that can prevent further infection. This also heals the tooth and dissolves in the meantime when the permanent teeth start appearing.
The child is usually under a safe anesthesia to help cope with anxiety of the dental procedure, such as Nitrous oxide. The doctor completes the initial treatment procedure such as pulpectomy and then chooses the right stainless steel cap to fit the original tooth. This fitment is adjusted based on the position of the tooth and the gums. The patient is now ready to use his new set of molars.
Care must be taken that no food or drinks is consumed up until the anesthesia wears off as it can cause injury or accident in the mouth due to the lack of sensation in the area.
Taking Care of your Stainless Steel Crown
Once a stainless steel crown is inserted in the place of a treated tooth, the patient has to take good care of the crown so as to ensure that the crown stays intact and does not cause any further infection in the mouth or around the treated area. In most cases, the teeth are restored and preserved to ensure that the child can effectively learn to use the full functionality of his mouth in his/her early years such as speak, chew and smile. Therefore, it is important that the crown is taken good care of, until when the permanent teeth arrive and the crown is no longer required.
Another benefit of having a teeth restoration done is that the permanent teeth may come up misaligned or crooked or crowded in the absence of primary teeth, which may pose a challenge for the child both functionally and aesthetically in their life. This is why taking good care of your dental hygiene post procedure is very important.
Some tips to follow are mentioned here:
- Start Oral hygiene much earlier in life. Parent can imbibe the qualities of rinsing the mouth a few times through the day, brushing the teeth twice a day, massaging the gum with finger and flossing once the full set of teeth comes around
- Limit the consumption of sugary food such as candies, chocolates, sugary drinks etc and ensure that your teeth is cleaned or rinsed after the consumption of such foods
- Visit your dentist every once in 6 months to ensure that dental hygiene is being maintained and the crown can also be examined for its effectiveness in each visit.
- It is vital to keep away any infection in the area where the treatment has been performed to avoid the risk of further pulp damage or gum damage.