dentist showing an x-ray to a mom and two children

What Is A Baby Root Canal?

DF7 Pediatric Dentistry

Baby teeth come and go in several years, being replaced by permanent adult teeth. During this time, however, kids are at risk for developing cavities and abscesses due to infection and decay. Because they cannot always verbalize what - and where - they are feeling pain exactly, sometimes these minor tooth issues turn into big ones. 

When the decay becomes too large that it has already reached the nerve, it may be time for a pulpotomy - or baby root canal

Signs a Baby Root Canal May Be Needed

If your child is experiencing bad tooth pain or you have an inclination that something is wrong, contact your pediatric dentist immediately. Sometimes a simple filling may be able to cure the problem. Other times, a baby root canal may be necessary. 

Signs of tooth infection include:

  • A darkened tooth
  • Complaints of pain in or around the mouth
  • Pain that wakes the up during the night
  • Swollen or red gums
  • Swollen neck or jaw
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Fever
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of appetite or refusal to eat

Baby Root Canals: The Procedure

Many people cringe when they hear the phrase root canal. And while it would be hard to find someone overjoyed to go forward with the procedure, it really isn’t too bad at all. This is especially true when you have a skilled pediatric dentist.

Local anesthesia is used to numb the area and nitrous oxide (laughing gas) can be used to relax your child, making it a painless experience. The decay is then removed and the health of the tooth’s nerve is assessed. If the nerve has become exposed due to the removal of the decay, then that part of the nerve will be removed. The remainder of the nerve will be left, disinfected with a solution, and filled with a medicated filling. Finally, the tooth will be rebuilt and covered with a crown to give added strength.

Why Just Pulling the Tooth is Not the Best Option

It is quite common for parents to insist that a tooth just be extracted rather than having to cover the cost or have the child experience a root canal. And it usually comes down to the fact that the tooth is going to just fall out anyway. While this is very true, simply pulling the tooth is not always the best option. 

When kids get their first set of teeth - their baby teeth - they become a holder of the space for the future, permanent teeth. By pulling the tooth before the permanent tooth is ready to erupt the teeth around it free to move as they please. As the permanent tooth finally arrives, there may not be enough room, causing it to be crooked or crowded. A space maintainer would be necessary to prevent shifting as crooked and crowded teeth can lead to additional oral health issues down the road. 

Learn More About Baby Root Canals

If your child is showing signs of a tooth infection or you have questions or concerns about baby root canals, contact Dr. Mary Jo McGuire, DMD today at 908-735-6300 . Or schedule an appointment online.