It is a common misconception that cosmetic dentistry is just for a pretty, white smile. When, in fact, cosmetic restorations are important for restoring both function and aesthetics when it comes to a child’s smile. They can retain the integrity of your child’s teeth and also prevent further damage as he/she gets older.
Restorations are a great option for ensuring adequate tooth function, restoring aesthetics, protecting the remaining tooth structure, and also promoting good oral health. Materials used in restorations vary in color, protection level and method of application, and your dentist will be able to recommend the best restoration for your child.
If your child has decay or a fracture, a filling is the first option to restore the tooth. Your dentist will be able to remove the affected portion of the tooth, clean the remaining portion, and fill the void with a protective material. Although fillings can last for many years, most are not permanent and will need to be maintained or replaced. Additionally, if your child has an amalgam/metal filling that has a dark hue to it, your doctor can replace that filling with white fillings (composite) to restore the tooth to a more natural look and feel.
If you child suffers from extensive decay in a tooth, or that tooth is broken, your dentist might suggest placing a crown. Whether it’s a primary or permanent tooth, a crown provides the protective covering that is needed to restore the shape and look of the tooth, as well as avoid any future damage. While crowns are a great option, it is important to know that no option is as ideal as natural teeth, so crowns do require more attention and maintenance. If your child has a crown, he/she should avoid chewing on hard or sticky foods, grinding teeth, or avoid sports with full contact.
In the unfortunate incident that your child is missing a tooth due to congenital reasons, loses one due to trauma, or had to have one extracted, there are a number of options to help improve the functionality of his/her bite and the overall cosmetic appearance. While an implant is a great solution for children who are no longer in their growth phase of adolescence, younger children are not able to go this route. Instead, your child has the option of removable or traditional bridges, or composite bridgework. Bridges help to prevent shifting of the teeth that can lead to bite and/or jaw problems, and also uphold the integrity of the existing teeth, which helps to maintain a healthy smile.
A removable bridge is also considered a “partial,” and provides stability for the bite and a reasonable amount of cosmetic appeal. This bridge is technically considered a denture because it is removable, and it bridges the gap between any number of teeth. A traditional bridge is fixed, meaning that it’s not removable and actually adheres directly to the surface of the teeth opposing the gap. These bridges are a little difficult to clean and require reducing certain healthy portions of adjacent teeth, so another option is composite bridgework. With a composite bridge, the dentist will shape a “replacement” tooth with bonding material and secure it to the surfaces of the adjacent teeth without having to remove healthy tooth material from those neighboring teeth. The dentist is also able to remove this bridge at a later date when the child is ready for an implant or another solution.
Overall, missing a tooth, decay, or mild trauma can easily be fixed with early diagnosis and treatment from your dentist. He or she will help decide which option is best for your child so he/she can have the most natural and healthy smile available.