dental assistant holding up a hand mirror for a female patient

What Does A Dental Crown Look Like?

Team Dental Crown

If your child needs a dental crown on a primary tooth, you likely have a number of questions about why it is needed, what the process involves, and what a dental crown looks like. The types of crowns we use as pediatric dentists are different from the kinds of crowns used for secondary (adult) teeth because we know that the crowned tooth will fall out in a few years, so it doesn’t need the same level of durability as a crown for adults. Here’s what you need to know.

Why Would a Child Need a Dental Crown?

The most common reason children need crowns is because of tooth decay. When a cavity is small, it can be treated with a filling or silver diamine fluoride. Sometimes, though, a cavity compromises most of the tooth structure and it simply can’t be restored with a filling. In these cases, dental crowns are recommended.

Many parents wonder why a baby tooth should be restored with a crown when it could just be pulled out instead. After all, the adult tooth will come in soon enough—why go through all the effort of putting in a crown? 

The answer is that primary teeth are important! They help your child eat nourishing foods and speak clearly. When a primary tooth is extracted, it can lead to future orthodontic issues. If we believe, based on your child’s dental history and age, that their adult tooth will erupt soon, we may choose to extract the affected tooth, but in most cases, we will recommend a dental crown.

Types of Dental Crowns for Kids

The process of getting a dental crown involves removing all of the damaged portions of the tooth, then placing the crown over the remaining tooth structure to protect it. This does not affect when or how your child’s secondary tooth will erupt. Types of pediatric dental crowns include:

Stainless Steel Crowns

Because stainless steel crowns are noticeable, they are generally only used for molars. They’re both affordable and strong, although patients with certain types of metal allergies may need to steer clear and choose another option instead. If aesthetics are a concern, there are also stainless steel crowns with a resin front.

Composite Strip Crowns

These crowns essentially encase the affected tooth in a tooth-colored composite material. A plastic shell is filled with the composite material, then this shell is placed over the prepared tooth. After the composite has hardened, the plastic is removed, leaving behind a perfect replica of a tooth.

Polycarbonate Crowns

These tooth-colored crowns are made from either acrylic or polycarbonate shells. They are an affordable option that blends in with your child’s other teeth, but they are not as long lasting as other options, and not a good choice for a crown that needs to last for years.

Zirconia Crowns

Zirconia crowns are an excellent choice because they have the durability of a stainless steel crown, with the aesthetics of composite strip crowns and polycarbonate crowns. In other words, they’re both strong and aesthetic! 

Learn More About Dental Crowns for Kids

At Pediatric Dental Associates of Clinton we typically use stainless steel crowns. If you’d like to learn more about dental crowns for kids, contact us today at 908-735-6300 to schedule a consultation.