Benefits of Restorative Dental Care for Kids
Restorative procedures, or restorations, become necessary when a tooth has become damaged by disease (tooth decay) or trauma and requires treatment to restore health and function. Restorative procedures can be simple (like a filling) or complex (like a pulpotomy) depending on how badly the tooth is damaged and if they are not performed promptly, the tooth may have to be extracted. This is never an ideal situation for anyone, least of all kids, as the natural tooth is essential for maintaining oral health, oral function, and maintaining space for their permanent teeth.
Though there is some overlap between kid’s restorative dental care and adult restorative dental care, some adjustments are made because of their age and stage of development. Some of the most common kid’s restorative dental procedures and their benefits are discussed below:
Composite (tooth-colored fillings)
A filling is used to replace an area of a tooth that has been damaged by tooth decay (cavity). To perform a filling, an x-ray is usually needed and an anesthetic (in the form of an injection in the gums) is given. The decay is removed, and the restorative material is placed. The benefit of this is that if it is done early, it avoids the need for more complex restorative treatment (which is also more expensive), avoids worsening problems such as pain and infection if the cavity becomes deep, and preserves the natural tooth.
A pulpotomy is performed with there is a deep cavity that is close to or involves the nerve of the tooth. This is often marked by pain and could also result in infection. Pulpotomies remove the infected part of the nerve and then place a medicament on the remaining pulp tissue. A restoration and crown is then placed. Pulpotomies avoid the need for extractions, and preserving the natural tooth means that space is maintained for the permanent tooth so that more complex orthodontic problems are avoided.
Stainless Steel Crowns
Teeth that have undergone a pulpotomy often require a stainless steel crown that is usually placed at the same appointment. Since pulpotomies are performed on teeth with large amounts of decay, removal of that decay often means that a significant portion of unhealthy tooth structure will be removed. A stainless steel crown is placed to provide additional strength and coverage to the natural tooth so that it resists fracture (since it is significantly weakened), and to restore the aesthetics and function of the tooth so that it can remain safely in the mouth until the tooth is naturally exfoliated.
In cases where decay is so extensive that the tooth is unrestorable, it will need to be extracted. A space maintainer is a stainless steel band and loop that is used to preserve the space for the permanent tooth until it erupts. If a space maintainer is not used, the teeth on either side can drift over into space created by the missing tooth and obstruct the eruption of the permanent tooth. Without using a space maintainer, crowding will also occur, and this is a difficult problem that will require orthodontic treatment to correct. Space maintainers are temporary and will be removed once the permanent tooth erupts or the teeth beside it become loose.
Be sure to contact your favorite kid’s dentist, Pearly Smiles Pediatric Dentistry in Torrance, California if your child needs restorative dental care!