Root Canal Therapy For Kids
Pulp Therapy (For Baby Teeth)
The innermost layer of our teeth is the pulp, a mass of nerves and blood vessels, and it can become exposed and/or inflamed by tooth decay or damage. We use pulp therapy to save the tooth and prevent premature loss or extraction. If you child’s tooth is bothering them because the pulp is inflamed, we treat this condition with pulp therapy, a nerve treatment that restores and saves the tooth.
The main purpose of pulp therapy is saving your child’s tooth. Children eventually lose their teeth, but losing them too soon can affect their speaking and eating and fail to preserve sufficient space for their permanent teeth to come in. Premature primary tooth loss can lead to overcrowded and crooked permanent teeth. We implement pulp therapy to prevent premature loss and increase the likelihood that the new permanent teeth will erupt without any issues. Tooth decay spreads more quickly among primary rather than permanent teeth, so if your child has an infected tooth due to decay, it’s imperative you seek help immediately.
How do I know if my child needs pulp therapy for their baby teeth?
Most children who need a baby root canal have no symptoms. That’s one reason we recommend checkups every six months for regular examinations by one of our dental professionals. However, if your child has any of the following symptoms, it may mean your child needs pulp therapy:
- tooth pain for no apparent reason
- sensitivity to temperature changes
- swelling or redness around the teeth
- a broken tooth
What are the steps to do pulp therapy?
Like most dental procedures, we begin by numbing the area around the tooth in question. Next, we place a tooth isolating system around the tooth, remove the decay, and open the pulp. We only remove decayed tissue while leaving all that is healthy. If the decay has reached the root canals, we removal all the pulp in the pulp chamber and root canals. Once we’ve removed the decayed pulp, we clean the pulp chamber and fill it with a special material. Finally, we pace a baby crown for protection until your child loses the tooth naturally.
Will my child be awake during the root canal?
We can provide your child with conscious sedation in the form of nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or medicine as a syrup or a pill. We understand the importance of reducing the anxiety that is common among children and dental procedures.
Nitrous Oxide allows your child to be relaxed yet full alert during the procedure. We place a mask over their nose, and they breathe in a gas that is mixed with oxygen, resulting in a very mild sedation. If your child has trouble breathing through their nose or has increased anxiety when faced with a mask, we offer a sedative in the form of a pill or syrup.
We will provide you with instructions ahead of time on how to prepare for sedation, including reducing the amount of breakfast they consume the day of surgery.
Why do you use a dental isolating system for baby root canals?
We use a soft and flexible mouthpiece to protect the child’s cheeks, gums, and tongue and reduce aerosols as we perform the root canal. This latex-free polymer system keeps the tooth dry during the procedure, so we can effectively clean it and place a crown restoration. The isolating system also provides the child with a sense of security, allowing them to relax their jaw rather than keeping it open. Most importantly, the mouthpiece protects the child from swallowing any loose material.
What should I expect after my child undergoes pulp therapy?
Your child will most likely experience mild discomfort for the first 24 hours after the procedure but nothing that can’t be managed with over-the-counter medicine, such as Tylenol or ibuprofen. Please contact us right away if your child still has pain after the first 24 hours.
Make sure your child waits to eat until the numbness has worn off completely. Eating while numb can result in accidental bites of the lip and/or cheek. If possible, prevent your child from biting, sucking, or chewing on the numb area.
Once the first 24-hour period is complete, have your child resume their regular teeth cleaning routine of brushing twice and flossing once daily. Children that are prone to tooth decay need to be extra attentive to their dental hygiene and possibly come in for checkups four times a year. Keep sugary drinks and treats to a minimum, and remind them to brush, floss and rinse soon after.