Restorative Dentistry for Kids
Kids teeth can get cavities too, and the enamel can start breaking down for a variety of reasons. Even very young children may need fillings or stainless steel crowns to conserve the tooth. Baby teeth serve many purposes, including acting as a "placeholder" for adult teeth to come in, and many baby teeth are in the mouth until your child is between 10–12 years old. Listed below are some of the procedures we can perform on a tooth that needs restoring.
Composite (Tooth-Colored) Fillings
Composite fillings are tooth-colored to blend in with the remaining natural part of the tooth. The term composite refers to the actual filling material, which is a mixture of glass or quartz filler in a resin medium.
Composite fillings provide good durability and resistance to fracture in small-to-mid size restorations that need to withstand moderate chewing pressure. In addition to being more aesthetically pleasing, composite fillings are "bonded" with adhesive directly to the tooth surface. This often allows for a more conservative repair than traditional fillings. The life expectancy of a white filling can depend greatly on where it is in the mouth, a person's diet and biting habits. Read more about composite fillings.
Dental amalgam or silver fillings are the traditional fillings used for over 150 years. Tooth-colored materials now can be used to restore teeth. Therefore, amalgam is used less often than in the past. However, the newer materials can't be used for all situations. Amalgam is less costly than other materials. It also holds up better over time, especially in teeth that undergo a lot of pressure and wear from chewing. Learn more about amalgam fillings.
How Safe Is Amalgam?
Hundreds of millions of people around the world have amalgam fillings. Concern has been raised over the mercury in amalgam. Dental amalgam contains elemental mercury. It releases LOW levels of mercury in the form of a vapor that can be inhaled and absorbed by the lungs. HIGH levels of mercury vapor exposure are associated with adverse effects in the brain and the kidneys.
The FDA has reviewed the best available scientific evidence to determine whether the low levels of mercury vapor associated with dental amalgam fillings are a cause for concern. Based on this evidence, FDA considers dental amalgam fillings safe for adults and children ages 6 and above. The weight of credible scientific evidence reviewed by FDA does not establish an association between dental amalgam use and adverse health effects in the general population. Clinical studies in adults and children ages 6 and above have found no link between dental amalgam fillings and health problems. Note: The study did not include patients under the age of 6.
Extractions & Pulpotomies
A tooth extraction is the procedure done to remove a tooth that is damaged beyond repair. Extractions are also done to remove wisdom teeth that may be impacted or decayed. A pulpotomy is a procedure where part of the nerve (pulp) of the tooth is removed. It can be thought of as a partial root canal procedure. A pulpotomy in a primary tooth is often referred to as a “baby tooth root canal”. Read more about these procedures.
A crown (or cap) is a covering that encases the entire tooth crown restoring it to its original shape and size. A crown protects and strengthens the tooth structure, and is necessary when a tooth has such extensive damage that a filling would not be strong enough to withstand typical biting forces. A crown protects and strengthens the tooth structure, giving the tooth a longer life than it would have if restored by fillings. Learn about stainless steel crowns here.
One particular area of the mouth that is especially susceptible is the chewing surfaces of the molars. With deep crevices, food particles and bacteria can easily get stuck and can be hard to remove. At Douglas L. Park, DDS, Pediatric Dentistry, we can provide your child with an extra preventative measure with sealants. Read more about dental sealants.