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What Is Children’s Root Canal? Ask a Pediatric Dentist
A pediatric dentist might recommend a root canal for a child's primary tooth if diseased pulp tissue is discovered during an examination. Most often, this procedure is needed due to an injury, cavity or infected abscess and is performed to prevent the loss of the tooth. Since the primary, or baby teeth, serve a number of important functions, saving the tooth may provide important benefits.
Why a pediatric dentist performs root canals
When a dentist suggests a root canal on a child’s tooth, parents often wonder why the procedure needs to be done since the child will lose the primary tooth anyway. While baby teeth are only temporarily in a child’s mouth, they play a very important function in the long run. Although some situations might require a tooth extraction, a pediatric dentist will often opt for a root canal when possible to help save the baby tooth until it is ready to fall out on its own. Losing a baby tooth prematurely can result in the following consequences:
- Issues speaking and eating
- Impaired function of the teeth, tongue and jaw
- Overcrowding of the mouth
- Misalignment of permanent teeth
The root canal process in children
Several clues might point to the necessity for a root canal in a young patient. One of the most common signs that something is wrong with a child’s tooth is consistent pain. The child might also experience sensitivity to hot or cold foods and drinks. Apparent swelling and redness can also indicate that a root canal is needed. During a dental appointment, the dentist might notice discoloration of the tooth or drainage coming from the area.
The treatment process
While the goal of a root canal for children and adults is the same, it is often a much quicker and easier procedure for children. A child's root canal only requires partial nerve treatment, so the procedure can often be completed in one sitting. To begin, the dentist numbs the infected area using local anesthesia. A tiny opening is drilled into the tooth, which allows the pediatric dentist to remove the pulp tissue using small dental instruments. The area is disinfected and filled before a crown is placed.
The recovery process
Fortunately, the recovery process for a children’s root canal is often short and quick. The child might experience some pain and discomfort in the treatment area, which can be helped using an over-the-counter pain reliever marked safe for children. The young patient can often resume normal eating and drinking once the numbness from the procedure wears off, and there is no need to avoid brushing or flossing for the day.
If the child experiences severe pain, swelling or fever after the procedure, it is possible the area is infected. This situation requires prompt care, and the dentist should be called immediately for assistance.
While a root canal may be uncomfortable and a bit scary for children, this procedure is important for getting rid of infected pulp and saving the tooth from possible extraction. It is important to schedule an appointment with a dentist right away if a child shows any signs of nerve damage or infection.
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