Unfortunately, cavities and dental decay do sometimes occur. When this happens, it becomes necessary to treat the decay so that it doesn’t cause further damage to the baby tooth or the permanent tooth below. When detected early, most cavities can be treated with a filling.
Why treat a baby tooth? While it is true that baby teeth will eventually fall out anyway, these teeth are important for your child’s development because they serve as space holders for the permanent teeth to grow in. If the space is lost, other teeth can shift, preventing permanent teeth from erupting correctly and often leading to a crooked smile.
A decayed tooth, if left untreated, can also become abscessed and painful for the child.
Composite or tooth-colored, fillings are often used for cavities on the front teeth and back teeth, as they are more aesthetically pleasing. However, resin fillings are not for every cavity and for every child. These restorations take a longer to place and require more patient cooperation.
While fillings work well for small areas of decay, there are situations where a filling is not the best option. Sometimes, there is not enough tooth left to support a filling, but a crown can save the tooth. Crowns are coverings placed over damaged teeth to strengthen them and allow them to look and function normally again.
A crown will often be used instead of a filling on a tooth that has large areas of decay from a cavity that was not caught early enough. Crowns are also used after baby root canals (pulpotomies) and often after an injury that has cracked the tooth. The crown can help to save the tooth when there is too much damage for a simple filling.
Like the filling, crowns can be made of several different materials. We offer stainless steel metal crowns, white composite crowns, and zirconia crowns. The choice of which type of crown to use will be based on several factors: The stainless steel crowns are more durable, but less aesthetic. The tooth-colored crowns offer a more aesthetic look, but cost more and may be less durable. Our pediatric dentists are happy to speak with you about your options and weigh the pros and cons of each option with you. Ultimately, the right choice will take into consideration, not only aesthetics, but the long-term success of the crown and the probability of your child having to go through the procedure only one time. Often, the more durable stainless steel crown is the better choice for less visible back teeth and the beautiful zirconia crowns are chosen for the front teeth.