When your child experiences the pain and inflammation that comes with an infected baby tooth, there’s no question that a trip to a dentist is in order. Because dental problems won’t resolve on their own over time, it’s essential to seek professional dental care sooner rather than later to prevent oral health issues from becoming more complicated, painful, and expensive. But is it possible for a dentist to effectively treat an infected baby tooth without pulling it? You may be surprised to hear the answer: yes.
Root canal treatments for baby teeth are becoming increasingly as common as their adult counterparts. This is because more dentists recognize the critical role that baby teeth can play in the natural development of a child’s mouth. Still, scheduling a root canal for a child can be overwhelming and intimidating for parents. With this in mind, it’s essential to talk to a trusted dentist about the ins and outs of the procedure ahead of time.
Here’s what you should know about how a root canal treatment may benefit your child’s oral health before scheduling a free consultation with the experienced team at Brisbane Kids Dentist.
What is a Root Canal for Baby Teeth & Why is it Needed?
Just as in an adult’s mouth, severe and untreated tooth decay can lead to infection in children’s baby teeth. Any infection is a severe problem and must be treated immediately to prevent serious health complications. If the infection has affected the pulp of the tooth, a root canal is usually needed. During a root canal procedure, the infected pulp is removed, and the tooth is then treated to prevent future decay and damage. While discomfort caused by other dental issues may come and go based on dietary choices and activity level, pain from an infected tooth tends to persist and worsen over time. If a child experiences extreme oral pain accompanied by swelling, oozing, or a fever, a kids dentist in Brisbane should be seen right away.
Would it be Better to Just Extract an Infected Baby Tooth?
In the past, most people have assumed losing a baby tooth before it falls out on its own isn’t a big deal since it would be lost eventually anyway. With this idea in mind, some parents assume that simply removing the infected baby tooth is a more straightforward solution than going through the trouble of removing the infection through a root canal treatment. However, most dentists want to preserve baby teeth at all costs since they protect their permanent counterparts. Early extraction of baby tooth could result in a variety of long-term adverse side effects, including:
- Making proper chewing difficult
- Contributing to speech impediments
- leading to poor alignment of permanent teeth
When Would an Extraction Be Preferred Over a Baby Root Canal?
While the goal of any pediatric dentist is to save and restore your child’s infected baby tooth to health, in some circumstances, extraction is the only solution to relieve pain and stop the spread of infection. Some signs that your child may need to have an infected baby tooth pulled include:
- Significant oral trauma
- Severe infection that cannot be entirely removed with a root canal
- Severe orthodontic issues, such as overcrowding or a narrow palette
What Happens During a Child’s Root Canal?
Knowing what to expect from your child’s root canal procedure can make the experience less daunting for you and your child. During this type of pediatric dentistry procedure, the following will take place:
- First, the tooth is isolated using a rubber dam. This prevents unwanted debris from falling into the mouth and being swallowed during treatment.
- Next, the dental professional uses a drill to make a tiny hole to access the infected pulp inside the tooth. All of the infected material is removed, and the dental chambers are disinfected.
- Once the area is immaculate, cement is used to fill the now-empty canals.
- Finally, the tooth is sealed with a dental crown, usually reinforced with stainless steel, to address decay and protect the remaining healthy tooth matter.
Depending on the condition of your child’s infected tooth, they may undergo a “pulpotomy” or a “pulpectomy” treatment. Here’s what you should know about the difference between the two:
- Pulpotomy: During this root canal treatment, the dentist works to clean and restore the tooth’s crown alone, known as the “pulp chamber,” while leaving the healthy root area alone and intact. After cleaning out the top part of the tooth, the dentist will fill the empty hole with a specialized dental cement, followed by a stainless steel dental crown.
- Pulpectomy: This procedure is used when both the crown and root are filled with decay and infection. During this treatment, the dentist will clean the pulp out of the pulp chamber and the root and fill them with specialized dental cement. Like with the pulpotomy, the restored tooth is finished with a stainless steel dental crown to protect it until the baby tooth is ready to fall out on its own.
While having your little one undergo a pulpotomy or pulpectomy may sound scary, it’s important to remember that these procedures have a 90 per cent success rate, which means that in as little as one dental appointment, the health and comfort of your child’s smile can be fully restored.
Are Baby Root Canal Procedures Safe?
If you’re worried that a baby root canal treatment may not be safe, don’t be. When a trained dental professional performs, pediatric root canal procedures are entirely safe and often less complicated than their adult counterparts.
Is a Child’s Root Canal Procedure Painful?
Infected teeth can be extremely painful. While your child’s mouth will likely be tender and uncomfortable before their root canal treatment, the procedure itself should be virtually painless when performed by a trained dental professional. With the help of a local anesthetic, the infected tooth and its surrounding area will be completely numb before the dentist cleans out the decay and infection. That being said, for some very young children dental treatment in a normal dental chair is not possible and your dentist may recommend dental treatment under general anaesthesia in a private dental hospital.
What are the Risks of a Root Canal?
While problems during a pediatric root canal treatment are uncommon, they can occur. Before scheduling your child’s root canal procedure, it’s essential to be aware of potential complications, such as:
- The infected tissue may not be removed entirely.
- Space may not be filled or sealed tightly enough, leading to the need for another root canal or extraction.
- The cleaning solution may spread to the surrounding tissue and cause bruising, swelling, or infection.
- The tip of the specialized dental tool could get stuck in your child’s root canal or be swallowed by your child if dropped.
Be sure to discuss these and any other risks you may be concerned about with your child’s dentist before their root canal treatment.
Is Follow-Up Care or Additional Treatment Needed?
While some discomfort can be expected after a root canal, it is often far less severe than the pain caused by the infection. Still, parents can use over-the-counter children’s pain medications as needed for the next day or two. Parents are also encouraged to help children brush and floss carefully to prevent the situation from repeating in the future. Good oral hygiene is the best way to protect your child’s new dental restoration and protect other baby teeth from developing decay and infection. Depending on the condition of your child’s mouth, a dentist may schedule a follow-up appointment.
Tips to Help Your Child’s Root Canal Treatment Go Smoothly
The success of your child’s root canal treatment will significantly depend on how you, their parent, prepare for it. Check out these practical tips to keep in mind before your child’s root canal procedure:
- Educate yourself on what a root canal treatment would entail, any risks and benefits it may bring, as well as what alternatives may be available to restore the health and comfort of your child’s tooth.
- Remain positive and confident for your child. If they pick up on any anxiety or uncertainty you may have about their treatment; they will be fearful and possibly uncooperative themselves. If you’re calm, they can be relaxed too.
- Ask questions! If you are unclear about anything, don’t hesitate to ask the dentist more questions until you have a clear picture of what you can expect from your child’s dental treatment.
No one wants to see their child suffer from the pain and inconvenience that comes with an infected baby tooth. At Pure Dentistry in Brisbane, our trusted dental team is committed to providing your family with exceptional, compassionate care in a relaxing, professional setting. If your child has severe dental pain or other oral health concerns, don’t wait to seek treatment. Scheduling a dental appointment sooner rather than later is the best way to prevent minor dental problems from getting worse. To learn more about how to treat an infected baby tooth quickly and effectively, contact us today.
We look forward to helping you and your child smile bright for years to come!