Caring for an Elderly Parent With Special Dental Needs

Caring for an Elderly Parent With Special Dental Needs

Does a Chipped Baby Tooth Need Treatment?

Joe Lawrence

Wouldn't life be easier if missing or damaged teeth could grow back like your hair or nails? Unfortunately, this isn't the case with adult teeth (although scientists are working on it). When a permanent adult tooth is lost, it must be replaced with an appropriate dental prosthesis. Even when part of the tooth's structure has chipped away, it must be rebuilt using a dental composite material, or a restoration such as a dental crown. But what about your child's teeth? Since a baby tooth will ultimately be replaced by an adult tooth, does a chipped baby tooth need treatment?

Always Have It Checked

You should never make any assumptions about your child's chipped tooth, even when the breakage seems to be non-traumatic (painless, and free of associated symptoms such as bleeding and swelling). A child's chipped tooth must always be assessed by your family dentist. Although the initial impact of the breakage might be minor, it won't necessarily stay that way. A fragmented tooth can easily deteriorate further, which can lead to painful inflammation of the tooth's pulp (or its nerve), meaning that your child may need endodontic treatment

Superficial Enamel Chips

Treatment for a child's chipped tooth depends on the severity of the breakage, along with your child's age (and the expected eruption schedule for the adult tooth that will replace the tooth in question). If the chip is an enamel fracture or infraction —  superficial damage limited to the tooth's surface enamel — the tooth may not require major treatment. Your family dentist may opt to smooth away any sharp edges exposed by the chip, as these can irritate your child's tongue and other soft tissues inside their mouth. 

Development of the Replacement Adult Tooth

A dentist may recommend restoring even a minor enamel fracture or infraction when the baby tooth isn't expected to be lost for some time (possibly years). This prevents deterioration, preserving the tooth until its root structure is dissolved by the emerging replacement adult tooth. Your child's age provides a rough guideline for this replacement schedule, although if there's any uncertainty, an x-ray can be performed to check the development of the adult tooth.

Restoring a Chipped Tooth

A more serious chip involving the tooth's enamel and underlying dentin can require more intensive treatment. Your dentist may recommend reconstructing the tooth using a tooth-colored composite resin—particularly with anterior teeth, which are visible when your child smiles. Posterior teeth such as molars may be restored using a stainless steel crown, which is commonly used in pediatric dentistry due to its low cost (when compared to a ceramic crown), strength, and ease of use.

A child's chipped tooth isn't inevitably a major problem, but your family dentist will need to preserve the tooth's functionality for as long as it's needed, with a treatment option that reflects this.


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Caring for an Elderly Parent With Special Dental Needs

Caring for an elderly parent tends to be tough enough without the added stress of dealing with dental implants or dentures. But, the prospect is not the end of the world—there are many things you can do to ensure that your parent's dental health is not compromised without having to spend a lot of personal time doing the care yourself. Between working with the right dentist, hiring a service provider for part time work, and giving your parent the tools he or she needs to care for his or her own dental health at home, you'll find that dental health for your loved one isn't so tough or time consuming after all. Hopefully you are able to get the support and information you need right here.

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