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Root Canal Therapy for Kids: An FAQ

Children’s teeth can suffer from an even greater vulnerability to damage or disease than those of adults, due partly to the fact that baby teeth have thinner enamel than permanent teeth. As a result, your child may require occasional treatment for cavities or even infections of the teeth’s root canals.

If you have never thought of root canal therapy as a pediatric dental option, discover what you should know about it. Check out these answers to frequently asked questions about root canal therapy for kids.

1. What Symptoms Might Indicate That a Child Needs Root Canal Therapy?

First of all, a child might report a mild toothache. The cause is often a cavity that has reduced the amount of enamel covering the sensitive nerve tissue in a tooth’s pulp chamber. However, certain telltale symptoms may indicate a total breach of the pulp chamber that has allowed bacteria to enter and infect the root canal.

If your child experiences acute pain with chewing pressure or exposure to hot or cold substances, schedule a dental exam to see whether the pulp chamber has an infection. A small pocket of pus near the base of the tooth clearly indicates an infection, with fatigue, fever, and lymph node swelling serving as less obvious signals.

2. Why Do Pediatric Dentists Perform Root Canal Therapy on Baby Teeth?

Since baby teeth fall out to make way for permanent teeth, you might wonder why your child’s dentist recommends saving them through root canal therapy. As logical a choice as extraction might seem, premature extraction can allow the surrounding teeth to shift. This relocation may lead to permanent tooth crowding and bite abnormalities.

Retention of an infected baby tooth makes eliminating the infection on the tooth a necessity. In addition to ever-worsening pain and other symptoms, the infection might spread to other parts of your child’s body. Root canal therapy can save the tooth so that it can safely remain in place for as long as it should.

3. How Do Dentists Help Kids Tolerate Root Canal Therapy More Easily?

If you have never undergone root canal therapy yourself, you might assume that the procedure causes undue pain, anxiety, and trauma for children. Fortunately, modern tools and techniques enable kids to tolerate root canal therapy about as well as a simple filling in most cases.

Your child shouldn’t experience pain during the procedure itself, thanks to a local anesthetic to numb the tooth’s nerve tissue beforehand. Any mild discomfort immediately following the procedure should respond well to over-the-counter medication. Nitrous oxide can help alleviate anxiety.

Another trend in root canal therapy that makes the procedure easier for kids to tolerate involves performing the procedure in a single treatment whenever possible. Most kids require no or minimal downtime after root canal therapy. These positive experiences in youth may reduce dental anxieties in adulthood.

4. How Can You Reduce Your Child’s Need for Future Root Canal Treatments?

No matter how easy and helpful root canal therapy may prove, you’ll want to reduce your child’s risks for the dental problems that make such procedures necessary. Ask your pediatric dentist to help you educate your child on proper dental hygiene practices. Make sure that your child brushes and flosses correctly.

Regular pediatric dental examinations and cleanings can help to safeguard both baby teeth and permanent teeth. Your child’s dentist can take X-rays and examine the teeth manually to check for any cavities or other damage that might lead to nerve tissue exposure and infection, installing fillings or crowns to prevent that outcome.

Smart home dietary practices can protect your child’s tooth enamel. Feed your child tooth-healthy snacks such as cheese or apples instead of candy. Serve beverages such as milk and fluoridated water instead of acidic sodas and juices.

Kids Choice Dental/All About Kids Dental specializes in a variety of tooth-saving procedures, from pediatric dental exams and cleanings to root canal therapy. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for your child at any of our locations.

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