You may think that serious dental work, like a root canal, is unnecessary for a child’s baby teeth. After all, baby teeth fall out after a while. However, if you fail to treat an infected or broken tooth, your child’s adult teeth could be affected.
Sometimes, the best way to prevent future dental problems is with a root canal. Here is more information about why your child may need a root canal and how the endodontist performs the procedure.
Infections That Require Root Canals
Children need a root canal for the same reasons that an adult would need one. Root canals are usually prescribed when damage or infection occurs in the pulp material. The pulp is the area underneath the tooth’s enamel. It contains nerves and blood vessels that nourish the interior of your child’s tooth and keep it alive. When damage or infection occurs in this area, part of the tooth breaks down and dies.
Once an infection starts, you cannot ignore it. It won’t go away on its own. Eventually, your child could end up with a substantial amount of pain and a potential abscess. Severe infections can even lead to other health issues. In some cases, the infection can even spread to the developing adult tooth. Even if the infected tooth falls out, the adult tooth may be malformed and become impacted.
Root Canals vs Extractions
Extractions are not always the answer to an infected or damaged tooth. If the dentist does an extraction too early, then the surrounding teeth could move into the space. If this happens, your child’s adult tooth may not erupt normally. If the dentist cannot save the tooth, then an extraction may be warranted and a spacer can be used as a place keeper for the incoming adult tooth.
If extraction is inadvisable, a root canal can ensure that the infected tooth functions normally until the adult tooth grows in.
Root Canal Procedure for Children
A child’s root canal procedure is similar to an adult’s. The basic procedure involves the removal of the pulp and its replacement with filling. In some cases, only a small amount of the pulp needs removal. In other situations, the entire pulp and root material need complete replacement. How much work your child needs depends on the extent of the infection.
The treated tooth usually receives a crown at the end of the procedure. Most children tolerate the procedure well under local anesthesia. Your child can usually resume normal activities within a day with no complications. Have a follow-up examination within a few weeks of the procedure to ensure the treatment’s success.
Root Canal Prevention
You can prevent the need for root canals in your child’s teeth with proper care. Baby teeth decay just like adult teeth. If ignored, tooth decay leads to cavities which could lead to a root canal. The best way to prevent tooth decay is with these activities:
- Make sure your child brushes and flosses.Do this even for babies with few teeth.
- Visit a dentist early before teeth erupt. The dentist can check to make sure your child’s teeth develop correctly.
- Avoid hard foods such as ice and candy. Children’s teeth have thinner enamel and are more susceptible to damage.
- Have your child wear a mouthguard.If your child plays in contact sports a mouthguard can protect their teeth. Your child may also need a mouthguard when he or she sleeps.
The bottom line is you shouldn’t ignore any type of tooth problem in your child’s baby teeth. Even though baby teeth drop out naturally, infections can lead to future adult tooth problems. Crest Hill Family Dental can examine your child’s teeth and perform an endodontic procedure if necessary. Call us to set up an appointment.