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Updated on November 8, 2023
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Stainless Steel Crowns (SCCs): Restorations for Primary Teeth

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What is a Stainless Steel Crown (SSC)?

Stainless steel crowns (SSCs) are metal crowns that restore:

  • Decayed baby teeth
  • Chipped baby teeth
  • Fractured baby teeth

Dentists often use them to temporarily restore a child’s tooth and prevent the premature loss of baby teeth.

stainless steel crown

SSCs may also be placed after a pulpotomy, root canal, or in teeth with large cavities where other restorations are likely to fail. Since the 1950s, SSCs have been a valuable restorative material and treatment of choice by pediatric dentists because they are durable, strong, and affordable.

The advantages of stainless steel crowns for children include:

  • An effective way to save baby teeth and stop the decaying process
  • Durable, strong, and inexpensive
  • Provide full-coverage protection for long-term
  • They do not need retreatment

When is a Stainless Steel Crown Necessary?

There are various indicators for stainless steel crown placement in pediatric dentistry:4

  • A child is at high risk for cavities
  • Poorly developed baby teeth
  • Weakened and discolored baby teeth
  • Thin enamel
  • Permanent teeth are eroded or worn down
  • A tooth is fractured
  • Prematurely losing a baby tooth
  • A person is unlikely to attend follow-up appointments

Types of Stainless Steel Crowns

Stainless steel crowns, also referred to as caps, are pre-made and sized to fit over a child’s tooth. Dentists seal them in place with dental cement.

There are two types of SSCs available:

Precontoured Crowns — this type of crown is the most popular because it closely resembles the shape and look of natural teeth. They are pre-contoured before placement and typically do not require much trimming.

Pre-trimmed Crowns — pre-trimmed means it is already trimmed according to a specific size. They do not require trimming to fit the tooth. These crowns have straight, non-contoured sides.

How Much Are Stainless Steel Crowns?

The prices below reflect procedure costs without insurance:

  • Precontoured Stainless Steel Crown: $300-$500 (per tooth)
  • Pretrimmed Stainless Steel Crown: $300-$500 (per tooth)

Since dental restorations are medically necessary, part or most of the procedures are covered by a good insurance policy.

Dental Crown Silver

Stainless steel crowns are cost-effective, long-lasting, and have a high success rate. The cost of a stainless steel crown depends on the dentist’s location and how many are needed.

What Causes Cavities?

Cavities are the primary reason why SSCs are needed. They are mainly caused by plaque buildup.

Plaque attacks the tooth enamel, which causes holes and dark brown spots on teeth. If it is not removed completely, calculus (hardened plaque) forms and can only be removed by a pediatric dentist.

Primary or baby teeth are more susceptible to cavities and tooth decay because they have thinner enamel.

Here are four common causes of cavities in primary and permanent teeth:

1. Dietary Habits

Children and adolescents who consume foods and drinks high in sugar, such as candy and juices, are more susceptible to tooth decay.

Starches, such as chips, pasta, and bread can also lead to cavity development because they are high in carbohydrates, which turn into sugar.

2. Tobacco

Adolescents and teens who begin smoking or chewing tobacco early are more prone to tooth decay, tooth discoloration, and gingivitis (gum disease).

Eating sugary foods and smoking regularly can lead to enamel breakdown and cavity formation.

3. Poor Oral Health

Poor oral health can cause a buildup of plaque and bacteria. A good oral health routine includes:

  • Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • Flossing before bed
  • Rinsing with mouthwash

Every six months, children and adolescents should also visit a dentist for professional teeth cleanings, fluoride treatments, and dental exams. During the exams, pediatric dentists look for signs of tooth decay and determine the best treatment option, including SSCs or cavity fillings.

4. Medications and Dry Mouth

Dry mouth occurs when the salivary glands in the mouth do not make enough saliva and can be caused by some medications. Over time, dry mouth often results in cavity formation.

Adults and seniors are more prone to dry mouth because they take medications more often than children.

Medications that can cause dry mouth and tooth decay in children include:

  • Antihistamines
  • Pain Medications
  • Parkinson’s Disease Medications
  • Antacids
  • Decongestants

Stainless Steel Crowns FAQs

Are stainless steel crowns permanent?

If a stainless steel crown is placed temporarily, it will be easy to remove. Permanent crowns are permanently cemented to teeth and are very difficult to remove.

Are stainless steel crowns safe for kids?

Stainless steel crowns are typically not recommended because they can contain up to 12% nickel.

Alternative options are available that do not damage your teeth as much.

Are stainless steel crowns used on adults?

Stainless steel crowns (SSCs) are rarely used on adults.

While SSCs are strong, they are not the most natural-looking and durable type of dental crown available. If an adult does get a stainless steel crown, it will only be used temporarily while the permanent crown is being fabricated.

How long do stainless steel crowns last?

Stainless steel crowns can last for four years or more.

Last updated on November 8, 2023
5 Sources Cited
Last updated on November 8, 2023
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Dental Caries (Tooth Decay) in Children Age 2 to 11.National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  2. Koch et al. "Pediatric Dentistry: a Clinical Approach." John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2017.
  3. Nowak, AJ. "Pediatric Dentistry: Infancy through Adolescence." Elsevier, 2019.
  4. Amlani, DV., Brizuela, M. "Stainless Steel Crowns In Primary Dentition." National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2022.
  5. "Image." Flickr.
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