Primary (or baby) teeth play a vital role in the proper growth and development of your child’s permanent teeth. This is the reason why we may recommend root canal therapy for your child, rather than simply extracting a severely decayed baby tooth. Please review the information below to learn more about what symptoms may indicate the need for root canal treatment and how to prevent tooth decay in baby teeth.
In early stages, your child may not experience pain or discomfort from tooth decay. However, if your child suddenly develops sensitivity to hold, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and drinks, this could be a sign of decay. Other signs your child could need root canal therapy can include pain or throbbing in a tooth, which may indicate pulp damage or infection. This is most common when a tooth has been previously chipped or cracked and exposed the pulp within. We may recommend diagnostic x-rays to determine the extent of the damage or infection before advising treatment.
Root canal treatment for children proceeds in similar fashion to the adult experience. Local anesthetic medication is generally used to ensure comfort throughout. In most cases, your child’s root canal therapy will be a pulpotomy – removal of infected pulp only. Since less structure is affected by this treatment, it usually requires less time and discomfort to complete and to heal.
After your child’s root canal therapy, a dental crown will be fabricated and placed on the tooth to protect the remaining tooth structure from further damage. This crown will be strong and designed to perfectly fit within your child’s mouth. When the baby tooth falls out, the crown will go with it, allowing the permanent tooth to move into place normally.
There are actions you can take to help protect your child from tooth decay requiring root canal therapy. Some of these include:
- Start twice yearly dental visits by age 1
- Brush your child’s teeth until they are old enough to take over
- Teach your child how to brush and floss correctly
- Practice healthy nutrition in your home
- Talk to your child about the value of healthy teeth and gums
Root canal, or endodontic, therapy treats inflammation or infection within the pulp of a tooth. If you are awaiting your first root canal treatment, you may feel anxious or uncertain. It can be difficult to separate myth from fact when trying to learn what to expect. Here is some useful information about root canal therapy and some common misperceptions you may encounter.
Despite common belief, root canal therapy does not cause pain. Instead, it relieves the pain you are already experiencing by treating the underlying cause of the infection or inflammation. Some common reasons for tooth pulp inflammation or infection include:
- Deep tooth decay
- Chip or crack in tooth structure
- Tooth root fracture
- Periodontal (gum) disease
- Repeated treatment on a single tooth
Once inflammation begins, the pulp experiences swelling and pressure that cause pain. If left untreated, permanent damage to the pulp can occur, including pulp tissue death. When this happens, you may experience temporary relief of pain, but it may lead to painful infection and tooth loss.
Root canal therapy is the removal of diseased or dead pulp tissue from the inside of a tooth. We use specially designed instruments that clean out the pulp chamber and root canals. Next, we disinfect the canals with special medications and clean them once more. Finally, we seal the canals to prevent re-infection. You may experience minor discomfort for a few days, but this can usually be managed with over-the-counter medications.
After your root canal treatment, your tooth will need a permanent restoration to replace the lost tooth structure and protect the remaining tooth. This may be a filling or crown, depending on your need. We will discuss your restoration plan with you prior to your root canal therapy.
Whenever possible, saving your natural tooth is our goal. Root canal therapy can help to preserve your tooth. To learn more about root canal therapy or to schedule an appointment, contact our office.