Should Children Have Crowns?
Crowns as described throughout most of this section are not generally place on children’s teeth. The permanent or adult teeth are not usually fully in place until late teens or early twenties. As well, gums haven’t reached their mature position until then.
Preformed crowns for deciduous (baby) teeth
Sometimes a young child will have so much decay in their teeth, particularly their molars, that crowns are needed to preserve the remaining tooth structure. It is best if children can retain their deciduous (baby) teeth until they naturally fall out.
Their “primary teeth” enable children to begin eating solids and chew their food well, helping ensure good nutrition for their rapidly growing body.
These first teeth protect the underlying, developing adult teeth and serve as an important “place marker” for adult molars. This minimises the need for orthodontic treatment. When deciduous teeth are lost too early, the permanent molars that sit behind these teeth will move forward into the space where the extracted tooth was. This then means there is not enough room to fit all the permanent teeth, resulting in crowding.
Generally we prefer temporary molars (in particular) are preserved and preformed crowns will help to do this.
How are they different?
Individual custom-made crowns of porcelain are not usually used for younger children because children have deciduous (baby) teeth that will fall out.
Usually, preformed stainless-steel crowns are used for children. They are straightforward to place, universal in appearance and not very noticeable in the back of the mouth, and they can be moulded to shape around the remaining tooth structure. They are also quite shiny which makes them smoother and easier to clean so plaque is less likely to stick to them.
Preformed zirconia crowns can be used for children’s crowns if there is a concern about aesthetics as zirconia is tooth coloured. As zirconia crowns are thicker than the stainless steel more tooth structure is needed to be removed to fit them.
What about crowns on their adult teeth?
Children’s teeth continue to erupt throughout their teen years, and is not complete until late teens or early twenties.
If a crown is placed too early (before the tooth has fully erupted), a progressively expanding gap forms between the crown edge (margin) and the gum.
Since a crown preparation and placement is a complex and somewhat expensive process, it is wise to wait until the optimal time for such a procedure.
Does the CDBS cover the cost of a crown?
Unfortunately, the short answer is no.
The CDBS provides cost subsidy for basic dentistry such as examinations, x rays, cleaning and fillings. It can also cover treatments such root canal therapy and simple extractions but not orthodontics or treatment deemed to be cosmetic.
Preformed stainless-steel crowns are covered, but not preformed zirconia crowns.
Permanent crowns are generally classed as cosmetic and not available through the scheme.
Are Children’s Crowns Covered by Private Health Insurance?
Crowns are covered to an extent by private health insurance companies. There are limits as to how much rebate you will get and how often and how much can be claimed in a period.
It all depends on your level of cover – the limits are set by your health insurer.
Familiarise yourself with the extent of your private insurance cover, their limits and the table you have paid for.
See more on Dental Crown Costs here.