Many individuals across the world believe that root canal therapy is only for adults. We understand the logic, if a baby tooth suffers severe damage or decay, there is no point in saving it because the tooth will eventually fall out anyway, right? Not exactly. Baby teeth do eventually and naturally come out on their own, but we believe that those natural teeth are still worth saving.
In this post, we will talk about why root canals on baby teeth can be necessary at points, when a child might need a root canal, and what you can expect from the procedure.
Why A Child Benefits from a Root Canal
Even though children naturally lose their teeth over time, keeping their baby teeth until they’re naturally ready to come out is important for healthy dental development.
On one hand, they serve as natural placeholders for permanent teeth. If a child loses these teeth too early, before the body is ready, other teeth can move into that space and they may need additional orthodontic treatment – procedures that end up costing more than many parents realize.
Baby teeth also serve an important purpose in helping with speech development and chewing. Having holes in their mouth can not only be uncomfortable but make it a challenge to eat certain foods and say certain words. Parents would be wise to keep those natural teeth as their child learns important basic skills like talking and eating more complex meals.
Lastly, and it may seem silly, but teeth play an important role in building a child’s self-esteem. A child that loses a tooth too early will have a large hole for a prolonged period of time and could make them feel uncomfortable. A healthy, full smile gives them confidence around others.
When A Root Canal is Necessary for Your Child
It’s good for most parents to know that children don’t often need root canal procedures. However, one may be necessary in cases of trauma or injury to the tooth or in cases of serious tooth decay. Sometimes pulling a tooth (if age and timing is right) may be a better choice for managing their tooth damage, but other times a root canal is necessary.
The first indication that something is wrong is pain, ranging from sharp and intense to a dull ache. Sensitivity to hot or cold food is another sign of a root canal problem, as are signs of infection, including gum tenderness and swelling. If an abscess forms, you may notice a pimple-like bump on your child’s gums. Other symptoms include fever, general discomfort, and tender lymph nodes.
If you notice any of these symptoms or if you suspect that something is not right with your child’s teeth, make sure to contact your endodontist to schedule an appointment to get it reviewed.
What to Expect During & After a Child’s Root Canal
Root canals for baby teeth follow the same procedure as root canal therapy for adult teeth. The endodontist accesses the tooth’s interior chamber, cleans out the damaged or infected area, and then fills in the tooth. Anesthesia or mild sedation will make sure your child is comfortable and still during the procedure.
After the procedure, you may need to give your child some mild painkillers to take the edge off any soreness. Once they return home, be sure to feed them softer foods that aren’t too sugary, in order to avoid affecting the area. Your child should continue to brush and floss their teeth; just make sure they do not directly brush the treatment site until it has healed.
Once a child’s root canal procedure has taken place and healed as expected, it’s important for parents to keep their child’s teeth clean and brushed on a regular (twice a day) basis. It also helps to have regular checkups with their dentist or endodontist to ensure their mouths are staying healthy as they get older. And as always, if there are questions or concerns about their teeth, be sure to contact us here at Endodontic Specialists to schedule an appointment!