Traditional dental fillings include ceramic and plastic compounds that mimic the appearance of natural teeth. These compounds, often called composite resins, are used on the front teeth where a natural appearance is important, as well as on the back teeth depending on the location and extent of the tooth decay. Crowns are another restorative option for teeth with missing tooth structure, either from decay or enamel problems. The strength and durability of dental materials continue to make them useful for situations where restored teeth must withstand extreme forces that result from chewing, such as in the back of the mouth. 

What’s right for your child?

Several factors influence the performance, durability, longevity and expense of dental restorations, including:

  • The components used in the filling material
  • The amount of tooth structure remaining
  • Where and how the filling is placed
  • The chewing load that the tooth will have to bear
  • The expected lifespan of the primary tooth 

Before your child’s treatment begins, your doctor will discuss all options and help you choose the best filling for your child’s particular case. It may be helpful to understand the two basic types of dental restorations: composite fillings or full coverage crowns. 

  • White fillings are fillings placed into a prepared tooth after the decay is removed. They include glass ionomers, resin ionomers, and composite (resin) fillings. The dentist will prepare the tooth, places the filling and adjusts it as needed.
  • Crowns are often the recommended treatment for back teeth that have experienced severe decay or enamel malformations. They protect the entire surface of the tooth throughout the lifespan of the baby tooth, and hold up best to chewing forces in growing patients. Some baby teeth with large decay that extends into the pulp or nerve of the tooth will require a pulpotomy or pulectomy, which removes the damaged nerve tissue and medicine is placed to keep the tooth strong. A crown will then be placed over the treated tooth.