A root canal is a restorative dental procedure that is performed on an infected or at-risk tooth. Root canals are a common dental service for adults and children 12 years old or older, but they can be done for younger children when necessary. If your young child has a tooth that is in need of a root canal, here’s what you need to know.
What is a Root Canal?
A root canal is the removal and replacement of the dental pulp inside of the tooth. When performed on a primary (baby) tooth, it is referred to as a pulpotomy or a pulpectomy. Dental pulp is the soft tissue inside of a tooth that contains blood vessels and nerves that sustain the tooth during development. Once a tooth is mature and has erupted through the gums, the pulp is no longer needed.
The dentist makes a small hole in the crown of the tooth to access the inside portion of the tooth, the root canal. All of the dental pulp is removed and the root canal is filled with a rubbery composite material that is antimicrobial, meaning it is resistant to infection. In many cases a crown will need to be placed over the tooth to protect the remaining enamel.
Benefits of Root Canals for Baby Teeth
Root canals for baby teeth offer numerous dental health benefits:
- Treat or prevent infection. A tooth that is infected will need a root canal to remove the infected tissue. If a tooth has a crack or a deep cavity, a root canal may be done to prevent a tooth from becoming infected.
- Relieve or prevent pain. An infected tooth can be painful, but a root canal relieves tooth pain by treating the infection and by removing the nerves inside the tooth that register the pain. A root canal performed proactively can prevent a painful infection from ever occurring.
- Save the tooth. A tooth infection that goes untreated could result in the loss of the tooth. But in many cases a root canal can save a baby tooth until it is ready to come out.
- Prevent premature loss or extraction of a baby tooth. If possible, a baby tooth should not come out until it is naturally ready to be shed as the permanent tooth comes in. A root canal can prevent the need to extract a tooth prematurely.
The Importance of Baby Teeth in Dental Health and Development
Although they are eventually shed, baby teeth still serve many important purposes. They serve as placeholders for the permanent teeth, keeping teeth in proper alignment until the permanent tooth is ready to come in. Baby teeth are also there so children can chew effectively in the early years until the permanent teeth take over. They also aid in speech development, allowing for proper pronunciation as children learn to talk and potentially preventing speech issues going forward. A root canal to save a baby tooth and keep it in place until it is ready to be shed naturally is worth it.
Dental Associates for Kids Only, LLC Provides Baby Root Canals
We believe in saving natural teeth whenever possible, even baby teeth. As a pediatric dental practice we provide root canals for children of all ages as part of our wide range of dental services. If your child has a toothache or a tooth that is at risk for infection, the sooner a root canal is performed the better for the outcome of the baby tooth and the permanent tooth beneath it.
Call 516-625-3806 or contact us today to learn more and schedule an appointment.