Tooth FillingsThere are several options for restoring baby (primary) teeth as well as permanent teeth after a cavity is removed. You should always ask your doctor what would be the best type of restoration for an individual tooth. The following is a basic description of some of the most standard types of restorations in pediatric dentistry.
White fillings are made of a composite or resin material and are very esthetically pleasing. They come in a variety of shades of white and usually match the original color of a tooth very well. Composite is by far the most common way of replacing lost tooth structure after a cavity is removed or trauma. The tooth is cleaned, dried and then a bonding agent is “painted” over the surface to be repaired. The composite is then added to the tooth and cured (hardened) with a blue light.
Stainless steel –
These are the most common types of full coverage restorations to be placed on primary teeth. The benefit of a crown over a filling is that a crown covers and protects the entire surface of the tooth being treated and can help protect that tooth against future decay. Unfortunately baby teeth are very small so if a cavity is too large, placing a filling inside the tooth may not be a good option and may result in a broken or fractured tooth.
Stainless steel crowns are made of a very thin layer of metal. Metal is a very useful material for pediatric dentistry as it can be thin yet incredibly strong. This leads to minimal tooth structure removal and a long lasting restoration. Metal crowns are not tooth colored which can lead to an esthetic concern by some parents. However, stainless steel crowns are typically only recommended for back teeth as these teeth need a very strong restoration to withstand the chewing/grinding forces that molars are subject to in a child’s mouth. Front teeth can typically be treated with white composite or possibly a metal crowns but with a white “veneer” across the front so that the cap is still esthetically pleasing.
Over the last several years, zirconia crowns are being developed by manufacturers. These crowns are slightly bulkier than stainless steel options but are a tooth colored and quite natural looking option for restoring. These crowns are available for both front and back teeth. They require slightly more tooth to be removed to allow them to fit over the tooth and are more prone to fracture/chipping as they are not metal. However, if maintained properly, they can serve as a very natural looking option for a baby tooth in areas where esthetics are a concern. Always talk to your doctor about the best option for each individual child and tooth to be treated.