Longevity of Baby Teeth
Filling When They're Small
The Stainless Steel Solution
When a baby tooth is extensively decayed and using other filling materials isn't likely to be successful, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends restoring the tooth with a stainless steel crown especially if the tooth has received pulpal therapy. After removing the decay, your dentist will fit and cement a prefabricated crown made of stainless steel over the tooth. Here are some advantages of stainless steel crowns:
- Durable but inexpensive
- Full coverage protection for the tooth
- Very little sensitivity
- Less likely to need retreatment
- More successful than metal fillings in children under four years old
- Good choice for children who need general anesthesia
- Often used as an attachment for a space maintainer
If the pulp of the tooth is involved, the dentist may also need to perform pulpal therapy before placing the crown. But rest assured it is quite common, even for young permanent teeth.
Brushing Away Early Decay
Although tooth decay is preventable, the World Health Organization (WHO) still observes between 60 and 90 percent of school-aged children globally suffer from cavities requiring treatment. As a parent, however, there's a lot you can do to keep your child from ever needing a stainless steel crown.
The first is to engage in prevention immediately. When you're home from the hospital, begin cleaning your newborn's gums after feedings with a wet gauze or washcloth. As teeth appear over time, continue cleaning with a gauze before graduating to Colgate® My First® Toothbrush. And to avoid baby bottle decay, never put your baby to bed with a bottle or fill it with sugary drinks or juices.
Fluoride in Time, and Visit Soon
Use fluoride toothpaste to strengthen your child's tooth enamel. The ADA recommends brushing with a smear of fluoride toothpaste the size of a grain of rice for children under age three, and using a pea-sized amount for children three to six years old. Just make sure they don't swallow it! Brush your child's teeth twice a day, and when two teeth are touching, you can begin regularly flossing.
By their first birthday, however, schedule your child's first dental visit. The ADA strongly suggests children see a dentist no later than this milestone. By maintaining regular checkup visits, your dentist can continually evaluate your child's needs for fluoride supplements, in-office fluoride treatments, sealants and possible orthodontic referrals.
Children inspire you to keep their teeth as healthy and as bright as your own. But if one of your child's teeth requires a stainless steel crown, remember it's a good option for the health of your child, their baby tooth and the permanent tooth underneath.