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Why stainless-steel crowns are an effective treatment for tooth decay in children

Quick quiz: What’s the most common noncommunicable disease worldwide?

If you answered tooth decay, dental caries, or dental cavities (different names for the same thing), give yourself a gold star. 

As we’ve explained before, tooth decay is caused by certain bacteria in the mouth that thrive on sugars and refined carbohydrates and produce acids as a side effect. The acids attach to the hard outer layer of your tooth (the enamel) first.

We all have our own biology, and some people tend to be more prone to decay than others.

Tooth decay is a real issue for many children

Unfortunately, some parents can be a little complacent when it comes to caring for their children’s teeth, with the mindset that those teeth will be gone in a few years anyway, falling out naturally to be replaced by their permanent ‘adult’ teeth.

However, in most countries, the high frequency of caries in primary teeth, and its inadequate treatment, is considered a major public health problem during childhood. The health impacts can significantly affect children’s lives.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reports that around 2 in 5 (42%) children aged 5–10 have experienced decay in their primary teeth.

Of even greater concern is that more than 1 in 4 (27%) had untreated decay in these teeth, according to the National Child Oral Health Study.

About Preformed Metal Crowns (PMCs)

At Middleborough Dental Care, Dr Ling – who has a special interest in paediatric dentistry – has found that most children are happy to be given a ‘special silver tooth’ as part of their treatment.

The technique of using a stainless-steel crown rather than a potentially more invasive treatment tends to make a child less stressed and more compliant (making our job a bit easier, too).

The Hall technique – named for Dr Norna Hall, a Scottish dentist who first explained the concept in 2006 – has become increasingly common because it’s so effective and child friendly.

Using the Hall technique, the crown is placed without the need for local anaesthesia, caries removal, or tooth preparation.

An appropriate size of PMC is filled with glass ionomer cement and simply fitted over the tooth and pressed into place with either the dentist’s finger pressure or the child’s biting force.

Why the Hall technique is effective

Without getting too deeply into the biology, primary teeth tend to have more pulp than permanent molars and capping a carious tooth (one with some decay) rather than trying to remove the decay and filling the hole tends to preserve more of the vital pulp.

A stainless-steel crown contains the decay so it doesn’t get worse and protects the primary tooth until it’s shed naturally.

By using the Hall technique, the superficial plaque layer, which is the most essential layer in the biofilm for caries progression, is left and sealed along with the decay. The plaque biofilm composition changes as a result, arresting or at least slowing down caries progression.

It’s cost-effective, too

Anyone who has had any experience with crowns being made for and fitted to permanent teeth can rest assured that the cost of stainless-steel crowns isn’t anywhere near the same range, in excess of $1,000.

Fortunately, due to the process and the material, stainless-steel crowns are very reasonably priced, costing only $330 each.

That’s comparable with the more traditional ‘drilling and filling’ treatment, with the advantages we’ve outlined above. 

We want all children to visit us regularly

From our perspective, in addition to the positive medical outcome, the fact that we can make sure a child has a less traumatic dental experience in his or her developing years makes it well worthwhile.

Any child that has a relatively comfortable experience with dental treatment is more likely to return for future check-ups and treatment.

Because every member of the team at Middleborough Dental Care is experienced with children, you can be assured that we’ll always treat your child with the care and compassion that will make her or him feel as comfortable as possible.

Ensuring that everyone feels calm and never stressed about visiting the dentist is important to us.