Pediatric Root Canal
Root canal treatment is a safe and effective way to stop many kinds of tooth pain, and to keep a tooth from being lost due to decay or injury.
Root Canal Treatment for Children
If your child’s dentist has recommended root canal, or endodontic (“endo” = inside; “dont” = tooth), treatment, you might be asking why. After all, root canal treatment is a way of saving a tooth with bacterial infection or inflammation by removing the pulp in the center of the tooth. Since your child’s primary (baby) teeth will eventually come out on their own, you might wonder what the point is of trying to save one that is at risk of being lost prematurely.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
Pediatric dentists, endodontists (specialists in tooth pain and pulp damage), and general dentists with additional training can perform root canal treatment in children. In the initial clinical exam, the dentist will review your child’s complete medical history because systemic (general) disease may require special treatment. He/she will also assess the pain. If it happens in response to stimuli, like hot or cold, sweet or acidic foods and beverages, or impact with another tooth, there are a number of possible causes—not all of which would require root canal treatment. But spontaneous (unprovoked), constant, throbbing pain typically indicates extensive pulp damage. Infection can travel out of the root tip and into the surrounding jawbone, possibly forming an abscess, and trigger secondary pain.
Root canal treatment is usually an in-office procedure performed under local anesthesia that completely numbs the affected tooth.
Prior to performing root canal therapy, the dentist will place a rubber “dam” around the tooth, isolating it from the rest of the mouth to prevent contamination. Then, he or she will use a miniature drill to create a tiny opening in the tooth to access the pulp. Using very small instruments, the dentist will next remove all the diseased pulp tissue from the entire length of the root canal(s) and pulp chamber, and disinfect them with antiseptic and antibacterial solutions. The cleaned space is typically filled with gutta-percha, a rubber-like natural material. The final step is to seal the access hole that was made to treat the canal(s).