About 1 in every 5 children between the ages of 5 and 11 years have one untreated decayed tooth. Unfortunately, children with poor oral health often miss school and get lower grades compared to those who don’t.
Untreated tooth decay causes pain, infections, and eventually the extraction of your child’s tooth. Root canal therapy is a treatment option that can relieve your child’s pain and save their tooth.
If you’re wondering whether root canal for kids is a safe and effective procedure, here’s everything you need to know about this treatment option.
When Is Root Canal for Kids Necessary?
The central part of your child’s tooth contains a pulp which has nerves, connective tissues, and blood vessels. The pulp helps in the growth of teeth in children.
However, damage to the tooth enamel due to decay or trauma can extend to the pulp, and damage it. If Dr. Bob confirms that the pulp is damaged, they may recommend a root canal or endodontic treatment.
A root canal treatment is a way of saving a tooth from inflammation or bacterial infection. It can be done on both primary or permanent teeth. Without this procedure, the damaged teeth can:
- Interfere with your child’s chewing
- Distort the development of speech
- Lead to the misalignment of new permanent teeth
- Delay the development of a permanent tooth
If your child’s primary tooth is about to fall out, Dr. Bob may not recommend a root canal treatment. Further, if the tooth is extensively damaged, extraction may be the best option.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Root Canal for Kids
Some of the signs that may indicate damage to the pulp include:
- Unprovoked tooth pain
- Slight fever
- Gum tenderness and swelling
- A pimple sac of pus in your child’s mouth
- Sensitivity to different foods and drinks
- Tender or swollen lymph nodes
- A broken tooth that shows the pulp, nerve, or the root
You’ll want to bring your child to a pediatric dentist at Brushin’ on Belmont in case they have any of these symptoms. To confirm that the pulp needs treatment, the dentist may perform a few tests including:
1. Percussion Test
In this test, the dentist softly taps the painful tooth with a specialized tool. If the tooth has an infection, there’ll be a painful response from your child. However, a healthy tooth doesn’t have any response.
This procedure helps to detect tooth infections. If the tooth has infections, our dentist will notice a dark spot centered at the root of the tooth – also called tooth radiolucency.
3. Thermal Test
The thermal test exposes the teeth to hot or cold temperatures. The reaction of your child’s teeth to the different temperatures will help Dr. Bob decide if a root canal therapy is necessary.
4. Electric Pulp Test
In this test, the dentist holds an electric pulp testing tool against the infected tooth. The dead nerves in an infected tooth will have no sensation to the tester’s electric current while healthy nerves will have a little tingling sensation.
What Happens During a Root Canal Treatment?
A root canal treatment or non-vital pulp therapy for baby teeth involves the removal of the damaged tooth pulp from the crown and root. In its place, a filling is used.
Before the procedure, our dental team will place a rubber dam around your child’s damaged tooth to isolate it from other parts of the mouth. Using a small drill, the dentist will then create a small opening on the crown to access the pulp. The damaged pulp is then removed.
Once this is done, Dr. Bob will further clean the inside of your child’s tooth and add a filling. With time, the filling material is absorbed during the reabsorption of the root as the tooth falls out. The dentist then covers the tooth with a steel crown that protects the root canal treatment from further damage.
Other Forms of Endodontic Treatments
In some instances, the decay in your child’s tooth may not reach the pulp. In other cases, the top part of the pulp may have an infection, while the pulp at the root may still be healthy. In such scenarios, we may recommend virtual pulp therapy.
This treatment is usually done on baby teeth. The dentist removes the pulp from the crown rather than from the root. This kind of treatment is effective if there’s no abscess or swelling on the tooth. Additionally, the tooth shouldn’t be loose.
Different vital pulp therapies include:
1. Protective Base
This treatment is effective when the tooth decay is yet to reach the pulp. The dentist will remove the decay and place a filling to prevent further damage.
2. Indirect Pulp Cap
This treatment is used when the decay doesn’t touch the pulp, although it may be close to it. Dr. Bob will put a protective material near the pulp to encourage healing and ensure that the pulp isn’t exposed to the decay.
3. Direct Pulp Cap
In this case, part of the pulp is visible due to injury. Our team will recommend the use of medication on the pulp to protect it from infection.
4. Vital Pulpotomy
This treatment happens when the decay has spread to the top part of the pulp, but the root isn’t affected. The dentist removes the affected part and leaves the root pulp intact. A protective material helps to protect the pulp from further infection. A stainless steel crown helps in covering the tooth.
Preparing Your Child for Endodontic Treatment
Many parents believe that endodontic treatment is painful. However, this is far from the truth. Dr. Bob and our team will use anesthesia to ensure there’s as little discomfort to your child as possible.
The procedure is extremely effective in relieving tooth pain. We also advise you to be there before the start of the procedure to assure your child that all will be well.
Root Canal for Kids at Brushin’ On Belmont
The best approach to prevent pulp damage in your child is adhering to proper dental practices and going for regular dental visits.
However, if your child shows symptoms of an infected tooth, see the dentist as soon as possible. Root canal for kids can prevent further infection and save your child’s teeth.
If you’re looking for a pediatric dentist in Chicago or nearby towns, look no further than Brushin’ on Belmont. We tailor our dentist treatment to every child’s needs.
Contact us today for top-notch preventive and dental rehabilitation care for you and your family.