Baby teeth all fall out eventually, but that doesn’t mean taking care of them doesn’t matter. The baby teeth are the backbone for future permanent teeth. Taking care of them ensures proper placement, longevity, and health for permanent teeth. If there is severe damage to the baby tooth from large cavities or trauma, a dental crown to protect the baby tooth may be the best treatment until the permanent tooth claims its spot.

What is a Dental Crown?

A dental crown is a cap placed over a tooth to cover it completely in order to restore its size, shape, or strength. A crown will fully encase the entire tooth to hide and/or protect damaged teeth.

A dental crown is a cap placed over a tooth to cover it completely in order to restore its size, shape, or strength.

When is a Crown Needed?

There are several reasons why you may need a crown, even for baby teeth. A crown restores a tooth to full functioning so you can eat, smile, chew as you normally would. The most common reasons for a crown include the following:

  • You have too big of a cavity to fill
  • You have a tooth that is cracked or too worn down
  • If you have to get a root canal, you have to get a dental crown to protect it
  • A discolored or badly shaped tooth (this is for aesthetic purposes)
  • Covering a dental implant
  • Holding a dental bridge in place

The enamel of baby teeth is thinner and so cavities tend to spread more easily and can affect a larger area of the tooth. When this happens, crowns may be the only way to protect the tooth and create a placeholder to protect and allow healthy permanent teeth to grow in properly.

Types of Tooth Crowns

When it comes to dental crowns, there are several different types your dentist could choose. Which one works best depends on tooth position/function, your preference, position of gum tissue, how much of your tooth that shows when you smile, and color of your tooth.

At Dr. Kemper's pediatric dentist office in Louisville, KY, a crowns come in 4 different types.

  • Porcelain Crowns: This is definitely the most popular type of crown used today. They are all porcelain material which provides a very natural look. They match your teeth perfectly so no one would even recognize it as a cap. They are non-toxic and metal-free, which is beneficial to many who worry about metal toxicity. There are many different types of porcelain materials used today, such as E-Max and Zirconia. Your dentist can help you decide which material would be the best for your particular tooth.
  • Porcelain Fused-to-Metal Crowns: This is a widely used dental crown. It’s been around for over 50 years, so we know they work well. A PFM provides the best of both worlds with the strength of a metal structure and the aesthetics of porcelain. The only downside to a PFM is the grey line that may show through at the gumline as sometimes they can wear down if a patient tends to grind or clench their teeth a lot.
  • Gold Crowns: These are fairly rare today. They aren’t used very often because of the way they look – most people aren’t looking for gold teeth. However, they are strong and highly durable.
  • Stainless Steel Crowns: This is most commonly used for children and molars because it’s the most durable. For teeth that do a lot of chewing, stainless steel can’t be beat. These are also very cost effective – and since they will come out eventually, they are a good choice for baby teeth.

The decision on what type of crown to use will ultimately depend on the dentist and his or her recommendation. It’s important to discuss the options to determine what is best suited for your child.

Steps to Getting a Dental Crown

The dental crown procedure doesn’t need to be painful or scary. In fact, it is a very common procedure, even for children. Usually, placing a dental crown requires two appointments of about 60 minutes each (unless you’re placing a stainless steel crown which is trimmed, crimped, and placed the same day). The process for a dental crown is outlined below:

At our Louisville, KY kids dentisty, there are four main steps to getting a dental crown.

  1. The dentist numbs your tooth with local anesthesia (typically lidocaine). If necessary, this can also be completed with sedation dentistry.
  2. The tooth is then shaved down to make room for the crown to fit perfectly on top.
  3. An impression is then made of the prepared tooth with a putty-like substance or a digital scanner so that the dentist can determine what size crown will fit best.
  4. The dentist will then determine the shade of the patient’s teeth using a shade guide or take pictures to shade match perfectly.
  5. A temporary crown made from resin or acrylic is then placed on the tooth while the permanent crown specifications are sent to a lab for manufacturing.
  6. After a few weeks, the permanent crown is sent to the dentist’s office and you’ll come back for another appointment to remove the temporary one and place the permanent one.

FAQs About Crowns

A permanent dental crown can last between 10-30 years depending on your hygiene habits and the wear and tear of your teeth through grinding, clenching, etc. For children, crowns are often only needed until permanent teeth can grow in their place.

The cost of dental crowns depends on the material you choose, the dentist you use and of course, your dental insurance coverage. Kemper DMD takes a wide range of dental insurance options and will always provide the exact and full cost upfront before any work is completed. If you’d like to get an idea of how much your crowns may cost, we can give you an estimate over the phone.

When you go home after your first appointment, your mouth will still be numb. It’s important to wait to chew until the numbness has subsided because sometimes you may actually damage or cheeks or tongue by chewing and not feel it. After the numbness has worn off, you can eat and drink as long as you follow these guidelines:

  • Avoid anything hard or sticky, especially candy and gum that can disrupt the crown.
  • Brush and floss, but use the alternative flossing method around the crown as explained by the dentist.
  • If necessary, you can use a desensitizing toothpaste for sensitivity in the area.
  • Rinse the mouth with saltwater to avoid infection.

After your first appointment and the temporary dental crown is placed, we recommend avoiding hard or sticky foods in that area until the permanent one is in place. The temporary crown is just a placeholder and not as durable as your permanent one. Once you have your finalized crown, you can resume normal eating habits.

This process should be as pain-free as possible from the first visit to the last. Of course, we know that getting dental crowns can be uncomfortable, but we take measures to keep all of our tiny patients comfortable. The patient is under anesthesia for the bulk of the actual procedure to alleviate anxiety and pain throughout the process. When the anesthesia is worn off, the patient can go home and the minor discomfort is tolerable with Tylenol and an ice pack if necessary.

How to Avoid Getting A Crown

Dental crowns are one of the many valuable restorative dental methods, and sometimes a necessary one. However, there are things you can do to avoid ever needing them in the first place. The best thing to do is to protect your child’s teeth from any type of damage or decay. This can be done in two ways:

  1. Brush thoroughly. Of course, this one should be obvious. We recommend brushing and flossing regularly. This means every day, twice a day. With children, we often see a lack of attention to the molars. Sometimes they are hard to reach, and a quick brushing child often misses them. Even children who brush well tend to pay more attention to the front teeth than the hard-to-see molars. This leads to a lot of decayed back teeth that may require crowns.

Good teeth brushing habits can help save kid's teeth from decay and damage and establish good dental health.

  1. Wear a mouthguard. If your child plays a sport where they risk impact, specifically football, baseball, or basketball, they should wear a mouthguard. Teeth can be quickly damaged by a loose ball or a thrown elbow. Protect their teeth through all sporting activities with a mouthguard.

Don’t Delay Dental Issues

A pediatric dental crown is an investment in your child’s future dental health. As your child’s young jaw develops, empty spaces caused by rotted or pulled teeth can cause serious issues. As the jawbone grows, baby teeth are essential in keeping proper spacing. Without it, you will end up with braces and other expensive dental treatments when they are older.

If your child has rotting, failing, or damaged teeth, a crown now can save thousands of dollars down the road. Give us a call today!