Sometimes, children may develop dental conditions that damage teeth severely enough to require restoration. In addition to improving the function and feeling of one’s teeth, some restorative procedures may also be used for cosmetic reasons, such as to close a gap between teeth or replace a missing tooth.
Pediatric Restorative Dentistry
Pediatric Dental Fillings
Fillings may be used to address cracked or chipped teeth. However, fillings are most commonly used to repair cavities. Cavities develop when a substance called plaque, which forms from saliva, bacteria, acid, and food pieces, builds up in the mouth. Plaque tends to stick to teeth, where it slowly erodes the surface until holes, or cavities, are formed.
Before inserting the filling, the decayed part of the tooth is removed. The filling is then added to fill the void created by the removal of the decayed area. Our office offers composite (tooth colored) fillings which blend nicely with the surrounding tooth structure.
Pediatric Dental Crowns
Crowns provide a durable, full-coverage option for posterior (back) and anterior (front) teeth that are severely decayed or damaged from early childhood caries (ECC). ECC – also known as “baby bottle caries” – is a bacterial infection causing severe decay in the teeth of young children. ECC is of epidemic proportions in the United States.
The crowns are easily placed on the affected teeth and are durable. They provide a strong protective cover for the remaining tooth structure and improve tooth function. Crowns may also be used to cover cracked or chipped teeth, thereby preventing the chip or crack from becoming larger, and to help keep bridgework from shifting.
Our office proudly offers two crown options for your child’s treatment: stainless steel crowns and zirconia (white) crowns.
Stainless Steel Crowns
Stainless steel crowns are used to treat posterior (back) baby teeth that are severely decayed or did not from properly. They are made from stainless steel and contain nickel and chrome. The crown should stay on until the tooth naturally exfoliates (falls out) but sticky candy and foods can pull the crowns off. If the crown does come off, please call the office immediately in order to re-cement the crown.
Zirconia (White) Crowns
Zirconia crowns are another option to the traditional stainless steel crowns for restorations. Zirconia is a bio-compatible material that until now has only been used in high-end adult cosmetic dentistry. Zirconia crowns are free of metal and glazed with a hint of natural color making then blend seamlessly with the surrounding teeth.
These crowns are very durable and can withstand normal function without chipping or cracking. They can be used on anterior (front) and posterior (back) teeth. The crown should stay on until the tooth naturally exfoliates (falls out) but sticky candy and foods can pull the crowns off. If the crown does come off, please call the office immediately in order to re-cement the crown.
See what crowns have done for these kids!
Pulp Therapy (Baby Root Canals)
In addition to crowns, some teeth require treatment to the dental nerve or pulp of the tooth. This occurs when dental decay is deep or if a tooth is fractured and involves the nerve of the tooth. In many cases when the dental nerve is involved, the child will experience discomfort and treatment is more urgent.
To avoid extracting the decayed or broken tooth, the infected portion of the pulp may be removed (pulpotomy) or the entirety of the pulp may be removed (pulpectomy). A pulpectomy is required when the tooth is dead or there is severe infection. When the pulp is removed, medication is placed in the root canal of the tooth to help heal and preserve the remaining tooth structure.
Pediatric Tooth Extractions
Extractions are only used as a last resort. Primary teeth are important to the growth and development of the surrounding soft and hard tissues contributing to a child’s speech and nutritional intake. If a tooth must be extracted prematurely, the doctor may recommend a space maintainer. A space maintainer will preserve the area for the permanent tooth to erupt properly.
Additionally, some teeth simply don’t want to come out on their own at home. When a permanent tooth begins to erupt while the baby tooth is still erupted, the baby tooth becomes over retained. We like to call this “shark teeth!” Your child’s doctor may recommend extracting the baby tooth to allow the permanent tooth to move into the correct position.