Pediatric dentistry is an area of dentistry that focuses on the oral health of children. Starting good dental hygiene habits early in life is important. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states, more than 50% of children under the age of nine have had at least one cavity in their baby teeth, and…
Five Frequently Asked Questions About Baby Root Canals
A baby root canal might be recommended if your child has a cavity close to a tooth’s nerve or a severely damaged milk tooth that is not yet ready to fall out of the mouth. There is a common misconception that baby teeth are not important since they all fall out at some point, but that is not the reality.
Baby teeth play an important role in holding space for the permanent teeth behind them. One falling out prematurely can lead to various teeth alignment issues like crooked teeth. A baby root canal is performed to save such teeth, keeping them intact until it is time for them to fall out. It is somewhat rare for children to need root canals since baby teeth typically fall out by the time a child is around seven. However, children with severe decay or trauma to a tooth might need the procedure to preserve the baby tooth until the permanent tooth that will replace it is ready to emerge.
Commonly asked questions about baby root canal therapy
Many parents do not know what to expect when a pediatric dentist informs them that their child needs a root canal. Let us go over the answers to some of the questions you might have:
1. How do you know if your child needs a root canal?
A child might need a root canal if they have an infected or severely decayed/damaged tooth. The procedure is needed whenever an injury or decay leaves a tooth’s pulp chamber exposed to irritants in the mouth like bacteria, saliva, and acids made by oral bacteria.
Some of the signs that a child might have a dental problem that requires a baby root canal include:
- Severe toothaches
- Swollen gum tissues
- Darkened gums
- Increased teeth sensitivity to temperature extremes
- Severely damaged tooth
2. Are baby root canals safe?
Yes. Root canals are safe for children, just as is the case with adults. Performing a root canal improves your child’s health by preventing and treating infections. It also helps to ensure the child’s permanent teeth erupt properly when due.
3. Will my child feel pain during the procedure?
No. Local anesthetics are typically administered at the start of the treatment to numb the area being worked on. If the child is having a hard time staying still during the procedure, nitrous oxide (laughing gas) can be used to keep them calm and comfortable.
4. What goes on during baby root canals?
Baby root canals involve numbing the gums around the tooth being treated and the tooth itself. Afterward, tiny tools are used to remove the damaged parts of the pulp before the area is disinfected and sterilized. Medication might be inserted into the tooth if it is infected. The tooth is then sealed up and a stainless steel crown is placed on what is left of the tooth to protect it until it is time for it to fall out. The entire procedure takes about an hour for each tooth being restored.
5. What are the different types of baby root canals performed by pediatric dentists?
There are two main types of baby root canals performed to save milk teeth: partial and complete pulpotomy. A partial pulpotomy involves removing infected portions of the tooth being treated and its pulp, while a complete pulpotomy involves removing a tooth’s entire pulp and nerve. It is typically performed when a tooth is infected.
During a partial pulpotomy, infected parts of the tooth and its nerve are removed before medication is placed in the area to prevent further infection and decay. The tooth is then covered with a crown. All the soft tissues in the pulp are removed during a complete pulpotomy and the tooth is filled up before covering it with a crown.
There is no recovery period after getting a root canal. Most children do not report feeling any pain after the procedure. Parents are advised to wait a few hours for the local anesthetic used to wear off before feeding their child since parts of the mouth being numb while trying to eat can lead to soft tissue damage. For example, a child is more likely to accidentally bite their tongue when their mouth has been numbed by a local anesthetic. The child is free to eat whatever they want once the anesthetic has worn off.
A baby root canal preserves your child’s dental health
Baby root canals often bring an end to some of the most excruciating toothaches your child can ever experience. Call or stop by our Richmond clinic to set up an appointment.
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