White Crowns versus Silver Crowns - Which one is best for my child?

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Happy January 2021!   I hope this new year has brought you and your family new hope and new beginnings!

This month's blog will be about a question many, if not all, parents ask me: 

What is the difference between a Silver and a White crown?   

Before I answer this question, let me point out that Baby Teeth Crowns are different from Adult Teeth crowns (from what you may be used to).  If you child's dentist has recommended a crown on a baby tooth: 

  • this means the cavity is too large to simply restore that tooth with a filling
  • baby teeth crowns generally require only 1 visit (placed the same-day as cavity-removal)
  • baby teeth crowns are pre-fabricated - this means your dentist has a box of pre-made crowns of different sizes.  And after the cavity is cleaned out, he/she fits the closest size crown to your child's tooth.  ( This is different from Adult teeth, where your crown is made at a lab and the process can take a few weeks).

So moving on to the difference in White versus Silver Baby teeth crowns.  There has been a lot of headway in the recent years regarding dental materials, and we now have, more than ever before, more viable options! However, please still keep in mind - there is NO perfect dental material!  Nothing is truly as strong as your own healthy enamel.  So even though we have more options to make your child's smile strong and healthy, please know, it is imperative you still have your child practice healthy oral hygiene to avoid developing more cavities.  So with that said...

Silver Crowns (Stainless Steel)

  • "tried and true" option for crowns on baby teeth - has been around forever
  • made up of: Stainless steel (which is a blend of metals including Nickel, Copper, Aluminum)
  • does NOT contain Mercury!  
  • contraindication (who is this NOT good for) :  a child with a Nickel allergy 
  • Positive attributes of Silver Crowns: 
    • it is a stronger option than the White crowns:
      •  because as a metal, it can bend and absorb your child's chewing forces/ grinding habits , making it LESS likely to break
    • less likely to de-bond:
      • 2 things hold the Silver Crown on your child's tooth:  1) dental cement, and 2) mechanical retention.  So if your child eats something sticky, the Silver tooth is less likely to get pulled off. 
    • stronger/longer lasting for back teeth (molars) 
    • requires less tooth structure removal than White Crowns
  • Negative attributes of Silver Crowns:
    • not aesthetic if placed on a front tooth

White Crowns (Zirconia)

  • relatively newer material
  • made up of: Zirconia (ceramic material)
  • Positive attributes of a White Crown:
    • looks amazing and natural!  Great for front teeth
  • Negative attributes of a White Crown:
    • more likely to de-bond
      • the only thing holding this White Crown onto your child's tooth is dental glue.  So there is a higher chance that White crowns can come off, if your child picks at the crown and/or eats lots of sticky foods. 
    • more likely to fracture than Silver crowns:
      • because the ceramic material is rigid and does not have flexibility, the White crown can fracture if your child is eating really hard foods and/or has a grinding habit
    • requires more removal of tooth structure, therefore a "Nerve Treatment" is many times also needed

There is your summary!   However, please ask your Pediatric Dentist what is best for YOUR child. 

Every child and situation is different so the decision between White versus Silver crowns is not "1 size fits all".   Our goal as your child's dental provider is to clean up the cavity, and place a restoration on that tooth, that will last until it falls out naturally on its own.  

If you are in the Prosper, Aubrey, Little Elm, Texas area and would like to chat more about these options, please call us at 469-277-1787!  Thanks for reading!

 - Dr. Karrie, Pediatric Dentist

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.