When Your Child’s Silver Cap Comes Off

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, so we will cover some important topics about your children’s teeth in our blogs this month.  Many children require the dental treatment of a silver cap or crown to cover a baby tooth.  What should you do if it comes off?

What is a Silver Cap?

A silver cap is a simple name for the dental treatment known as a stainless steel crown, or SSC.  These crowns typically cover baby teeth instead of permanent teeth, and they perform many of the same functions a dental crown performs on a permanent tooth.  They cover the entire tooth and restore it to normal chewing function.  A silver cap is not custom-made for each tooth the way permanent dental crowns are.  They come in a variety of sizes and are moderately adjustable.

Silver caps are usually necessary to cover baby teeth with very large decay.  When a large cavity destroys the majority of the chewing surface of a baby tooth, dental fillings tend to have a poor success rate.  These caps will replace all of the missing tooth structure and fall out with the tooth when the baby tooth should fall out.

Your dentist places the silver cap onto your child’s tooth after removing all of the cavity and the outer layer of enamel.  He will fit the crown over the tooth to make sure it meets the size and function requirements of the space.  Then he will use a special material that functions as both a calming filling and dental cement to adhere the crown onto the tooth.

What Makes a Silver Cap Come Off the Tooth?

The cement your dentist uses to place the crown on your child’s baby tooth is a different material than the cement he uses to put a crown on an adult tooth.  This makes it slightly easier to dislodge a silver cap if you’re not careful.

Your child may be able to pull off a silver cap by chewing sticky candy or gum.  Anything that could exert a pulling force could dislodge the crown.

A problem with the underlying tooth structure or surrounding gums could also make it easier for a crown to fall off, such as a new cavity or inflammation of the gums.

What to Do if Your Child’s Silver Cap Comes Off

The simplest and best course of action is to call us and get in to see the dentist for a re-cementation as soon as possible.  However, we know that these things tend to happen outside normal office hours.  If your child is not in any pain, it is not an emergency.

You can attempt to place the crown back onto the tooth.  Always try it first to ensure that your child is comfortable enough to sit still while you place it back on the tooth.  Do not attempt using any dental cement until you have confirmed that you can get it back into its correct place on the tooth.  The orientation of these crowns can be difficult to determine if you are not accustomed to looking at baby teeth.

If you feel confident that you can place it on the tooth correctly while your child sits still, you can use an over-the-counter dental cement to hold it in place.  These products are mild and will not harm the tooth.  They typically only provide temporary adhesion, so you still need to call your dentist for a visit as soon as possible.

You should NOT leave the crown off the tooth for an extended period of time because the teeth around it can shift and move, making future replacement difficult or impossible.

More Questions about Your Child’s Teeth?

Call Timberlake Dental at 940-382-1750 today to schedule a visit with Dr. Chowning.  He can answer any question you have about your child’s teeth and help you address any dental issues your children may have.

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