Why do kids get silver caps on baby teeth?

Silver caps on baby teeth

Baby teeth are temporary teeth and stay in the mouth for 6-9 years. They are natural space maintainers and it is important to keep them till the permanent succesor resorbs its roots and comes in its place. In this article, I will explain what silver caps are and why you need silver caps on baby teeth. 

What are silver caps on teeth? 

Silver caps are crowns used to cover decayed baby teeth. They are made of stainless steel. They are available in different sizes and are fixed to the teeth on the same appointment. 

Silver caps on the permanent teeth: Previously, these crowns were given to adult teeth. Nowadays, porcelain and zirconium crowns have replaced them and are no longer given in the permanent teeth.

What are the silver caps on teeth for: The silver caps on the teeth cover and strengthen the weak and damaged baby teeth to retain them until the permanent tooth is ready to replace them. 

Why do children get silver caps on baby teeth?

Silver caps have some advantages that make them suitable for baby teeth than permanent teeth:

  • Silver caps are very convenient and don’t require impression-taking and lab work for their fabrication. Children lack cooperation, and it is recommended to keep the appointment short (20-40 minutes). So, the goal is to place a crown that can be quickly placed on the child’s tooth and that can last till the tooth exfoliates.
  • The stainless steel crowns are easy to place and remove. 
  • They don’t interfere with the growth and development of permanent teeth and jaws. 
  • The silver caps are inexpensive and are easily tolerated by children. 
  • These crowns are only given on molars, not on the front teeth. 

When does a child need silver caps on baby teeth? 

Baby teeth have thin enamel and dentin and large pulp chambers. The cavity in baby tooth soon involves the pulp, and becomes painful. It requires opening the tooth with a dental drill, removing the infected pulp tissue and placing a filling. After the pulp therapy, the tooth becomes weak and needs a cap to save it till it exfoliates. 

A cavity appears as a black spot or hole in the tooth and should be treated early to prevent later complication.

Other factors that require silver caps on teeth are teeth with defective enamel or dentin or fractured teeth. 

The teeth which are likely to fall within 6-12 months are not covered with silver caps.

Why is it essential to save baby teeth and cover them with silver caps 

It is vital to save the baby teeth because of the following reasons:

For chewing 

The baby molars are responsible for chopping food. The food releases vitamins and minerals when it is broken down into small pieces, which are essential for proper growth and development of a child. 

A child’s dietary habits develop early in life, and putting your child on soft, refined food because of extracted molars will deprive their body of essential nutrients. Moreover, vitamin A and D deficiencies are linked to delay in tooth development and bone formation. 

Space maintenance

Baby teeth are excellent space maintainers. They retain the space for permanent teeth, especially baby molars. 

The baby second molar is lost between 10-12 years, its early exfoliation (between 7-10 years allows first permanent molar to tilt or move forward, leaving little to no space for the second premolar.

If the baby second molar is lost before 6 years, the permanent first molar (comes at age 6-7 years) may erupt in place of the baby second molar, and there will be no space for the second premolar. 

Both scenarios will lead to crooked teeth and later require orthodontic treatment. 

Click on the link for full article, When do baby teeth fall out and adult teeth erupt?

What is the procedure for placing silver caps on baby teeth? 

The silver crowns are available in different sizes. After the pulp therapy, the tooth is trimmed with a dental drill from all sides to make room for the crown.

The selected crown is placed on the tooth, and the child will be asked to bite on it. A correctly chosen crown should snugly fit on the tooth.

The excess crown margins are trimmed with the crown-cutting scissors or an abrasive wheel. Finally, the crown edges are finished, and the crown is cemented to the tooth. 

The capped teeth are sealed from bacterial destruction and are preserved until their exfoliation.

Are there any tooth-colored replacements for baby teeth? 

Preformed zirconia crowns are now available that can be cemented to the trimmed baby tooth. However, these crowns are not available in every dental practice. Moreover, they are also more costly than silver crowns.


How much is a silver tooth cap?

The silver tooth cap costs between $500-$1000 and is relatively cheaper than a ceramic crown. A ceramic crown costs $1500-$2000. Moreover, silver crowns are more durable than ceramics, but aren’t prefered on the permanent teeth due to their silver color. 

In children, silver caps are not given on the front teeth because space loss is unlikely to occur from forward movement of molar.

What happens if a silver cap falls out?

Don’t panic if the silver cap falls out. If the silver cap falls out, keep it in the zip-lock bag and take it to your dentist as soon as you can. The dentist will remove the cement from the inner surface of the cap and place it back on the tooth. 

Chewing on sticky foods and candies can pull off the crown. Don’t let your child eat gummies, Starburst, or fruit roll-ups etc,.

Do silver teeth fall out?

Yes, they do fall out as other baby teeth. Silver caps don’t interfere with the root resorption of the baby tooth. It only covers the part of the tooth exposed in the mouth. 

My expertise and experience

Stainless crowns are the most frequently given for baby teeth after pulp therapy. I prioritize saving the tooth with a filling. Glass ionomer fillings are commonly given for baby teeth. They release fluoride. However, they are not very strong and dissolve over time. If a considerable tooth structure is lost due to tooth decay, I recommend getting a crown to save the tooth from further damage.

Stainless steel crowns are cheap and suitable for baby teeth that will ultimately exfoliate. So, you should consider getting a stainless steel crown for your child if the dentist recommends it. 


Baby teeth are temporary teeth that stay in the mouth for 6-9 years. They are natural space maintainers and must be saved until the permanent teeth erupt.

What do silver caps do for teeth? The baby teeth with deep cavities require pulp therapy followed by silver caps to compensate for the lost tooth structure. The silver crowns strengthen the weak and damaged teeth.

They are made of stainless steel and are available in different sizes. Also, they don’t need customized lab work for their fabrication.  

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