Our number one goal here at Kids Dentist is to provide education and prevention so we can avoid the need for restorative services. However, not everything is preventable: decay can occur despite proper hygiene, teeth break or get knocked out, a tooth forms incorrectly–at which point pediatric restorative dentistry is the only option.
Depending on factors such as the severity of the problem, location in the mouth, and the patient’s age, there are many ways teeth can be fixed or restored. These include:
Amalgam, or silver-colored, fillings are ideal for larger cavities at the back of the mouth due to their strength and durability. Made from metals that include silver, tin, and copper, they have been used safely for over 100 years. Your doctor will determine the best filling material for your child, which will depend on the location and position of the tooth needing treatment.
Composite fillings are made of a plastic-based resin that can be matched very closely to your child’s natural tooth color, making them nearly indistinguishable from the original tooth. These fillings are the preferred option for front teeth, but can also be used on molars with small to mid-sized cavities. By chemically bonding to the tooth, composite fillings provide great strength and a natural appearance to the restored tooth.
A crown is a type of cap designed to cover and protect a damaged or discolored tooth. It is most often used for teeth that are broken, worn, or have portions destroyed by tooth decay. Although crowns on adult teeth can be made of porcelain, metal, or both, stainless steel crowns (which are silver in color) are commonly used on baby molars to repair extensive decay.
When a cavity is allowed to spread deep inside the tooth and into the pulp–which contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue–a root canal therapy, called a pulpotomy, is required to save the tooth. During this treatment the infected area is removed and the remaining nerve tissue treated with a medication that promotes healing. The tooth is then restored using a stainless steel crown, making your child’s smile as good as new.
When a tooth has become too damaged or infected for repair, or the roots of a baby tooth won’t allow it to fall out on its own, an extraction–or removal of the tooth–may be necessary. Sometimes it’s the only way to preserve your child’s oral health and overall well-being. An orthodontist may also recommend tooth extractions as part of a treatment plan. Fortunately for your child, modern techniques–combined with the skill of our pediatric staff–ensure it’s over quickly and with little or no pain.
Made of plastic or metal, a space maintainer (or spacer) is a custom-fit appliance designed to hold open the empty space between your child’s teeth where a baby tooth has been prematurely lost or removed. Without the spacer to stabilize them, the adjacent teeth may drift into the empty space where the permanent tooth is meant to grow, resulting in crowded or crooked teeth that will require expensive orthodontics in the future. In that sense, space maintainers are the very definition of preventive!