Baby teeth are just as important as adult teeth. They allow kids to eat, speak, have proper orofacial development and guide adult teeth into the correct position. Enamel is actually thinner on baby teeth when compared to adult teeth, so decay can spread quickly. In addition, baby teeth are more narrow and can very quickly lose the structure needed to support function.
These factors combined are why a pediatric dentist may suggest a crown for your child. It’s a quick, easy procedure that restores function and allows the tooth to remain in use until its natural age of exfoliation.
Tooth decay is the leading cause of premature tooth loss in children. About 80% of decay starts in between the teeth where it can’t be easily detected just by looking. When a child has severe tooth decay (like a severe cavity, or multiple cavities), there is a threat of pain, swelling and losing those teeth before their time.
Children do begin to lose a few baby teeth by about six, but they won’t lose their baby molars until around age 13. These baby teeth need to stay put until the adult teeth come in, or there can be severe dental issues down the road.
Baby teeth are like placeholders for permanent, adult teeth. When baby teeth aren’t there to guide adult teeth, the adult teeth may not form correctly in the mouth (especially as the jawbone grows) or find their proper place to erupt.
All of this haphazard movement can cause overcrowding and misaligned teeth, and will likely create the need for orthodontic treatments in the future (like braces). Crowns on baby and adult teeth prevent all of this from happening.
Here are some specific examples of when a crown might be necessary for your child:
- If a baby tooth has severe decay
- If they have received treatment to the nerve of a tooth (pulp treatments)
- If they have severe wear from grinding, erosion or both
- If their teeth have not formed properly
- As a temporary fix because they are too young to have a permanent adult crown
Decay and pulp treatments are the most common reason that crowns are needed in children.