The stainless steel crown provides an effective and practical way for restoring badly broken down baby and permanent teeth. While dentists in general would prefer to do small, traditional fillings, on occasion these fillings may not be expected to withstand the forces of chewing for a long enough period of time. Alternatively, the stainless steel crown is very durable and can be expected to provide good functional service for many years or until that time when the tooth is ready to fall out. On young permanent teeth the stainless steel crown can act as an excellent temporary filling and is often replaced with a porcelain crown once the child has reached adulthood.
There are a few common reasons for placing a stainless steel crown:
- Repairing baby and/or adult teeth that are significantly decayed.
- Repairing baby and/or adult tooth following a nerve treatment
- Repairing baby and/or adult teeth that are structurally deficient due to a genetic or other unknown condition
On occasion a tooth may be too damaged to be repaired with a stainless steel crown. If this is the case the dentist may discuss other treatment options including extraction of the broken tooth.
The steps involved in preparing a stainless steel crown are not very different from those involved in other standard fillings. The patient is initially frozen and then a rubber raincoat is applied for safety. Once the raincoat is applied the dentist will need to transform the broken tooth into just the right shape so that a crown can be placed. During this preparation phase the dentist will also need to remove all the soft parts of the tooth that are infected with decay causing bacteria. Depending on the depth of the decay the nerve of the broken tooth may have to be disinfected.
Once the tooth has been prepared the dentist will then have to try on a number of crowns in order to determine the best size. Once the right size is chosen the crown may have to be adjusted. This adjustment will ensure that the bite is correct and also produce a snug fit. After all adjustments have been completed the crown can be cemented in place. The dentist will then clean the tooth and do a final check of the crown’s quality.
What to Expect After the Procedure
Parents need to watch their child for an hour or two after the procedure in order to prevent lip-biting. Lip-biting can be quite common after a dental procedure until that point when the numbness wears off. The dentist may ask your child to rest their teeth on a tissue in order to prevent this problem.
Once the numbness wears off your child may complain of short-term soreness in the area of the crown. This occurs as the gums adjacent to the crown are minimally irritated during the procedure and it may take time for the gums to adjust to the crown’s margins. In order to minimize this soreness the child should be placed on a soft diet for the first 12 to 24 hours. A children’s dose of Tylenol or Tempra can be given as well.
Lastly, it is important to continue to brush and floss around the stainless steel crown. This should be done gently around the crown during the first couple of days. Good oral hygiene will allow for the surrounding gums to heal appropriately and will also help prevent future decay.