Does your child need a root canal treatment, called a pulpotomy, to save a damaged primary tooth? Are you wondering why children even get root canals? The truth is root canals – which save teeth that have a bacterial infection or inflammation in the tooth pulp – prevent primary teeth from being lost prematurely.
The early loss of a baby tooth can cause issues with speech development, chewing and the alignment of the permanent teeth still developing. Primary teeth are essential space holders for the emerging adult teeth coming in. When a tooth is lost, the surrounding teeth will shift to fill in this space and cause problems with bite alignment.
Signs of Tooth Damage
If your child displays any of the following signs, they may need treatment:
- Sudden toothache
- Throbbing, constant or intermittent tooth pain
- Sensitivity to hot or cold liquids, or certain foods (sweet, tart, spicy, etc.)
- Pain when chewing or speaking
If a primary tooth has pulpal (nerve) damage or a newly erupted adult tooth has nerve damage, your child may require a root canal treatment (a pulpotomy). Whether the pulp has been damaged because of trauma or cavities, the tooth still needs to be addressed. Aside from being space holders that allow the emerging teeth to come in properly, a bad bite or malocclusion may arise since the teeth and jaw bone are still growing into place.
A pulpotomy works by removing only part of the nerve, unlike an adult root canal where all of the pulp tissue is taken out. The good news is when working with a baby tooth, the treatment is quicker and not as invasive as adult treatment. Only the diseased tissue is taken out, and the healthy tissue is protected. A baby crown will be placed afterward so the tooth can still hold space for the adult tooth.
Our endodontist will evaluate your child’s medical history and take dental X-rays to see the inside of the tooth so an accurate diagnosis can be made. After the area has been numbed using local anesthesia, miniature dental instruments will be used to remove the decayed tissue. To protect the healthy pulp tissue, antibacterial material will be applied and then sealed to prevent additional infection. A biocompatible medicated filling is applied to offer comfort and facilitate healing. The filling will be absorbed by the body (just like the roots of a primary tooth would do), so the adult tooth can take its place. Often a tiny stainless steel crown will be used to restore the tooth’s design.
Preparing Your Child
You can prepare your child before the appointment to ease them into the treatment. Remind them how much better they will feel once the tooth is taken care of and their pain is relieved! When talking to them about the pulpotomy, stay upbeat and use calming language. Focus on the benefits they will receive, reassuring they will comfortable throughout the treatment, and you will be by their side. With the help of in-office pain management and over-the-counter pain relievers, it will help soothe any soreness afterward.
If your child has tooth pain or needs a pulpotomy for an infected tooth, please reach out to our team for an evaluation. We can help your child relieve their pain and make sure they keep their baby teeth until their adult teeth are ready to come in!