Also known as a pulpectomy or pulpotomy, a baby root canal is the process of removing infected or damaged tooth pulp. If you’re still confused, this is essentially a procedure to save a tooth that has suffered so much tooth decay that the tooth could be causing extreme pain or even be at risk of falling out. Read on to learn more about baby root canals!
What is tooth pulp?
Tooth pulp is the inside part of the tooth. It’s responsible for forming dentin, defending against microbes, and acting as the sensory part of the tooth. It contains blood vessels and nerve endings that make it extra sensitive. After the tooth is fully formed, the pulp is less essential to daily functions, so it can actually be removed if it becomes infected.
Does my child need a root canal?
When cavities reach the pulp, children will often feel extra sensitive to temperatures. They may feel a toothache or feel pain when eating. If the pain is severe or throbbing without provocation, the infected pulp may have resulted in a deep abscess. Don’t ignore these symptoms if your child starts noticing them. Infected pulp can quickly progress if left untreated, leading to life-threatening complications, like sepsis.
How did my child’s pulp become infected?
When bacteria in the mouth is exposed to sugar from food and drinks, they will be converted to acids that damage the enamel. After a prolonged period of time (weeks or months), the enamel will be permanently destroyed, leaving a cavity or hole in the tooth. This leaves the dentin and dental pulp vulnerable to infection from bacteria. Lack of dental hygiene and negligence to treat cavities are major causes of infected pulp.
What is the process of a baby root canal?
If your child is suffering from an infected root, there are two options: pulpectomy or pulpotomy. A pulpotomy is a procedure that only removes the infected part of the pulp in a primary tooth to avoid extracting it. The pediatric dentist will leave as much of the pulp intact as possible. This is recommended for children whose teeth are still developing and need the pulp to produce dentin. However, some situations necessitate the removal of the entire pulp. This is known as root canal therapy or pulpectomy. As long as there is a functioning tooth to retain space for the permanent teeth, a pulpectomy can be a viable option.
Here’s what you and your child can expect during a pulpotomy or pulpectomy procedure:
- Administering a local anesthetic: Because the pulp contains sensitive nerves, the pediatric dentist may administer a local anesthetic to numb the tooth and surrounding area. However, a root canal should not hurt any more than a regular dental filling – in other words, not at all!
- Isolating the tooth: To prevent the infected tooth from spreading bacteria to other teeth, the pediatric dentist will use a rubber sheet or dam to isolate it.
- Removing the infected area: The pediatric dentist will create a small hole in the tooth, so they can remove any parts of the tooth that are infected. Once they reach the pulp, they will remove the affected nerve and pulp.
- Sterilizing the tooth: Even after the infected areas have been removed, there may be lingering bacteria. The pediatric dentist will apply a special medication to ensure the area is clean and infection-free.
- Placing a restoration: Once the area has been sterilized, the pediatric dentist will need to protect the tooth with an artificial restoration. Usually, this can be achieved with a filling or a crown, depending on the severity of damage inflicted on the tooth. This will allow the tooth to function and look like it did before.
How do I prevent my child from needing a baby root canal?
The best way to keep your child’s teeth strong and healthy is by maintaining a good dental hygiene routine and eating a nutritious diet! Cavities won’t get the chance to form if your child removes plaque by brushing and flossing daily. Limit their sugar intake and make sure they’re getting food with plenty of vitamins and minerals to keep their teeth strong. Follow these common tips to keep your child’s mouth healthy:
- Avoid sipping on too many sugary beverages
- Drink water frequently to flush away food debris
- Brush after every meal or twice a day
- Floss every day
- Limit the consumption of sugary foods
- Use fluoridated dental products
- Reduce excessive snacking
Last but not least, make sure your child is visiting the pediatric dentist regularly. Most patients should be seeing their dentist every 6 months or twice a year, but this varies with each individual. The pediatric dentist will be able to identify, treat, and prevent dental issues before they progress to serious problems. If you need to book an appointment for your child, contact Epic Dentistry for Kids in Aurora, CO! We’re happy to help.