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Dental and Oral Health (Children)

Baby tooth crown/permanent tooth

06/20/2001

Question:

My four year old daughter has had quite a bit of dental work done on her - a few fillings, two root canals and a crown put on. This was harder on me, I think. She sat very still for two, two-hour sessions in the chair! She brushes well and I wondered if this could be the result of "soft" teeth. Also, she is concerned, even at a young age, if the crowned tooth will give her problems coming out when it is time for her permanent tooth to come through. Will it give her any problems and is this very unusual for a child her age? My other two children have good check-ups.

Answer:

That was a lot of treatment for your daughter and your reaction and concern is understandable. Current evidence indicates that `cavities` are not related to how `soft` the teeth are, but rather to the type of bacteria that become established in the mouth. Some bacteria are far more virulent and capable of turning food into tooth-damaging acids than others. Further, children in the same family may have different strains of bacteria in their mouths. This helps to explain why some have cavities and others don`t, though they all eat similar diets and have similar toothbrushing habits. Obviously, the bacteria in your daughter`s mouth are damaging and experience shows that she is at greater risk for more cavities in the future. Her dentist can help design a program of supplemental fluoride rinses when she is old enough and may also consider other antibacterial rinses. The dentist can also advise you about limiting between meal snacking which increases the opportunity for bacteria to cause cavities.

The crown is not unusual for baby teeth as evidence shows it to be cost effective for large cavities. It will fall out with the baby tooth inside at the normal time and should not cause any problems with her erupting permanent tooth.

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Response by:

Dennis J McTigue, DDS Dennis J McTigue, DDS
Professor of Pediatric Dentistry
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University